Stop Being a Devil’s Advocate and Start Advocating

I sit in a lot of meetings, not nearly as many as I could but still a lot.  As a marketing manager I’m consistently involved in several projects at once and although some may start simultaneously rarely do they stay on the same schedule or move at the same pace.

In developing a brand and executing plans to bring a brand to life there are a lot of starting and stopping points. A lot of places where you have to “circle the wagons”, “run stuff up the ladder” and make sure everyone is “on the same page”. During these times a necessary but often over-used part of the meeting is when someone is the “Devil’s Advocate.” They step back, sometimes way back, and ask why? how? why again? Sometimes these conversations are really needed to keep the project on track and to make sure you’re meeting other major strategies happening simultaneously. It really is an important step along the way. But these gut checks should be just that, brief gut checks making sure things are still on course and are adapting as needed in the ever changing landscape.

One thing is for certain; most projects don’t happen in a vacuum. Those that do generally miss the mark as they weren’t organically taking shape along with the changes happening in the business, industry, culture etc.

To speak candidly I’m over the over use of someone playing the Devil’s Advocate. Stop it, just stop. Yes occasionally it’s needed but generally what is (always) needed is someone or a team  of someone’s to be an advocate FOR the project. Get it done. You have a team that is most likely comprised of experts from all over your company, that know what the end game is and know their role in the project inside and out. They’re on your team and working for your company for a reason; they’re great at what they do. Empower them to get it done. Empower them to make the choices that are on their plate to make and stop second guessing every other step in the process.

It’s shocking how quickly playing the Devil’s Advocate can turn into analysis paralysis or a game of 20 questions that really didn’t need to be asked in the first place.

So can we please stop “Devil’s Advocating” and just advocate for the project, advocate for the client, advocate for your company. Let’s come together and get it done.

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