We’ve all heard the term Devil’s Advocate before – but here’s how you can turn a conversational phrase into a tool for spotting problems in an idea:
Appoint one person to play Devil’s Advocate in a discussion. Their job is to find reasons not to agree with the group’s decision. Tell the Devil’s Advocate that the rest of the group:
- are inclined to believe first, then find evidence to confirm their beliefs.
- tend to perceive what they expect to perceive
- overlook information that doesn’t fit
- easily get wedded to their stated positions
Ask the Devil’s Advocate to prove the opposite of what the group thinks, either by:
- drawing different conclusions from the same evidence
- or finding overlooked evidence
Credit: the tradition of appointing a Devil’s Advocate goes back to the 16th century church, but has been brought up to date by military Red Team planners.