Friday, December 11, 2009

Promoter Fidel

"As one executive warned us, 'Devil's advocates,if occasionally right,will get hunted down and killed by the antibodies in a company. Remember,they just won an argument. That means that someone else lost."

Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui, Bilion Dollar Lessons

One way they get hunted down is by labeling them cynical. What this epithet translates into is a definition of someone who is not part of the team, an unbeliever, someone not part of the process. Cynical conveys a faulty temperment, not an aptitude for honesty or seeing things the way they are. Cynics are to be isolated -- and not included.

"A study found that those who delivered bad news in corporations were tainted, even if they had nothing to do with causing the problem and even if their bosses said they knew the messenger wasn't at fault. Executives aren't stupid. Whenever possible, they delay delivering bad tidings."

And sometimes there are surrogate Devil's advocates who raise relatively harmless issues in provocative ways. Everyone pauses in passive recognition. They are beloved and called upon with great ceremony for their insights.

Tough job being a Devil's advocate!

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