We humans want to be liked. We want people to like what we do. It feels great. It also seriously limits the scope for our decision making. To really get a sense of the lay of the land, to analyse, generate options and then come to a sound conclusion, we need as broad and realistic a picture as possible. We need to inject dissenting views into the picture to add more depth and dimension.
There are several ways to do this. One role is the so-called “devil’s advocate”, the person arguing the opposite case. I am deliberately calling this a role, not a person, this is a key distinction. A person can play this role without having to disagree, and you don’t need to invite your biggest adversary to the table if this is not going to be constructive.
Somebody playing devil’s advocate is performing a key service to you, to the quality of the decision making, to the process of the group. You can share this role around. Another way of doing this are deBono’s “6 thinking hats” where you deliberately assign different “lenses” though which people look at a given issue.
If you are by yourself and don’t have a “phone joker” you can pull (tip: Develop a network of people who can be your “phone joker”), you can also step into this yourself. It might be better to do this with other people. But even doing this all by yourself is still better than not doing it at all as this is likely to surface additional helpful aspects.
How do you ensure balance and diversity of input in your decision making?
Want to go deeper? Check out the values worksheet here.