On Sunday one of my favorite tech writers, MG Siegler, made a case for a crucial role within every organization: VP of Devil’s Advocacy. I’d call it a must-read. Following the apparently disastrous launch of the universally panned Amazon Fire Phone, Siegler wonders how something like that happens. In his words, here’s the problem:
I’m constantly surprised when companies launch a product that seems doomed to failure right out of the gate.
We’ve seen a lot of these launches in recent years. Microsoft’s Surface RT. Samsung’s Smart Watches. Google’s Nexus Q. Apple’s Maps. All great examples. Each was quite clearly a disaster waiting to happen to many on the outside. So why was it so hard for those on the inside, those closest to the projects, to see the obvious?
The solution is his proposed VP role. But truth be told, he’s not really talking about a specific rank or a new hire you need to make. He’s talking about cultivating the guts to pushback against groupthink for the greater good. The truth is, we overrate consensus — especially when it’s quick and easily obtained. Siegler’s point is that cheap unanimity is how big, preventable failures happen, and the only way to stop them is to find within ourselves and our teams the willingness to challenge what everyone else endorses.
Note: This isn’t annoying antagonism. Nor is it a call to defeat every idea your team gets excited about. It’s simply a charge to make sure that every idea is forced to withstand a little scrutiny before it’s given a green light. Ultimately, this will refine the good ideas and reveal the bad ones for what they are.
If we want to push our churches creatively and strategically, if we want to push forward, there are going to be times when we have to push back.