Devil’s advocates – innovation killjoys

Tom Kelley implies that they do nothing but impress themselves

That’s the word from Tom Kelley, author of ‘The Ten Faces of Innovation.’

Are you someone who loves generating ideas, kicking them about a bit and seeing what happens? Perhaps you like to bounce concepts off people because instinctively you know that someone might see a possibility that you’re missing. Or that they night relate to the potential you’re allowing yourself to explore.

You call a friend and say,”hey man, I had this idea…”

When you’re done, or perhaps before you’re even done “Hmmm, interesting. But…”

And there the opportunity for imagination is crushed like a speeding mini bus taxi on a Johannesburg highway.

If you’re lucky enough to have friends who like to play with their imagination, tackle problems and consider other possibilities – bounce the ideas around with them. Who knows! You might inspire an action that leads to something magnificent.

Business should do the same.

Decision makers who are quick to point out the inadequacies of an idea murder innovation.

That doesn’t mean that an idea cannot be criticized or assessed – it simply means that you need to engage with the idea and not simply end it.


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  1. science mirecles

    Decision makers who are quick to point out the inadequacies of an idea murder innovation.


  2. Aakash

    Welll I beg to differ here.
    the Devils advocate is needed to keep you on track, to keep you close to the ground reality,
    The Devils Advocate acts like a Judge to see if the idea is worth it or not and it challenges different aspects of that Idea’s IMPLEMENTATION.
    90% of the businesses/products fail, the reason may be there were no proper devils advocate. the people who failed could have spent their energy on other more productive things. But in absence of devils Advocate they Tried and Failed. The better way to get ideas is to GET MORE IDEAS, challenge all and see which one passes the test with Devils Advocate and pick that one.


  3. Riley D

    A devil’s advocate is a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments. They are an extremely important participant of reason. They’re the reason life isn’t boring and black and white, they’re not killjoys, they’re actually trying to make things more imaginative and exciting and are expanding on concepts through discussion. Anyone who’s intolerant of devil’s advocates is a killjoy because they’re too uptight, are taking things too seriously and don’t understand what the devil’s advocate is trying to do.

    What you’re describing does not sounds like a devil’s advocate to me, but more like a pessimist, a person who has a tendency to see the worst aspect of things, and through which is doing nothing but impressing their own egos by their ability to do so, through a negative filter. Pessimists definitely crush innovation.


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