Objective Decisions and the Devil’s Advocate

Prospective clients ask me how I work, what I do and so on. Sometimes I sum it up by saying that I hold a mirror to their practice and working lives in order to help them see things more clearly, other times I’ll say that I walk beside them as their guide and cheerleader along the road to success, often I act as a Devil’s Advocate.

Entrepreneurs are especially prone to the risk of emotion-driven judgment because they fall in love with their ideas, which are like their children. They become emotionally attached to them, although they often don’t recognize that’s what is happening. Here are four ways you can help yourself remain detached so you can make more objective decisions:

  • Ask two primary questions: “What’s the worst that can happen?” and “Can you live with that outcome?” When answered immediately, freely, and with no strings attached, the answers often are a game changer.
  • Separate the person from the behavior. Put yourself in the role of a stranger or expert to view the idea you face more objectively.
  • Establish clear, measurable criteria for the range within which your idea or business must perform to be considered viable. Identify in advance what the boundaries are by defining criteria or minimum and maximum outcomes. If your results are not within those boundaries, chances are your idea or business isn’t going to work.
  • Choose a devil’s advocate. Turn your idea over to a trusted colleague or expert chosen for his/her objectivity. Ask this individual to search for weaknesses or issues that need to be addressed.

Like many over the past months I have been going through my notebooks, stored websites and referenced articles. I always try to acknowledge my sources when I quote anything however I found this as a note, cut and pasted from an article and I can’t recall from where it was sourced. That doesn’t reduce the power of the advice. If you recognise it please let me know. For some reason I think it may have come via Alan Weiss, if so I tip my hat to him. alun.

Published by Alun Rees

Dental Business Coach. Analyst. Troubleshooter. Consultant. Writer. Presenter. Broadcaster.

2 thoughts on “Objective Decisions and the Devil’s Advocate

  1. Max Bazerman book Judgement in Managerial Decision is a classic on biases in judgement and can add depth to the conversation, the Devil advocate (defined by the church as someone who did proves the sainthood) may be a good metaphor given its meaning. A coach job is to ask self discovery question to foster understanding and possible error in judgement, just my 50 cents (inflation) worth. From a 3 3 9 6


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