The Devil's Advocate: Impacts on Groups Decision Making

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  • 0:07 Devil's Advocate
  • 1:34 Strengths and Weaknesses
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
The devil's advocacy decision-making technique is where the group is allowed to become the critic in the proposed decision. This technique helps prevent groupthink and increases the chance of a high-quality decision.

Devil's Advocate

Funtown Amusement Park's plan is to open a brand new roller coaster this summer at the park. The design team has been given the task to develop an incredible coaster that will set a record across the country in speed, height or thrills. Every new coaster begins with a specific process. The design team develops the basic ideas for the coasters and then presents the final idea to the CEO. One member of the team (Felix) does an excellent job at being the group critic and pointing out potential issues. In this manner, Felix is always given the devil's advocacy role in final group decision making.

The devil's advocacy decision-making technique is where an individual is allowed to become the critic in the proposed decision. Felix's role is to ensure that the company does not make an expensive mistake and uncover any potential flaws with the options. The design team has come up with the following three coaster ideas:

Mayday: A traditional wooden coaster with a wooden loop and wooden corkscrew.

I Believe I Can Fly: A steel roller coaster with a large gap in the track for the train to jump.

The Kitchen Sink: A roller coaster with everything. It has a massive opening drop and reaches speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. It also has eight inversions.

Now it is time for the team to review each of the three alternatives and for Felix to play devil's advocate!

Strengths and Weaknesses

The biggest strength to using the devil's advocate technique is the ability to prevent groupthink, which is where members try to eliminate discord and agree on a decision even though it might not be the best alternative. The role of Felix is to cause discussion on the coaster alternatives and point out any flaws or risks. For example, the design team is in total agreement that all three coaster choices will be amazing. Felix has provided a summary of the coasters pointing out all of the issues. The service that the Felix will provide as a devil's advocate will lead to a high-quality decision. The devil's advocate technique will also help eliminate any potential future issues or problems.

Although the design team agrees that the three ideas are really cool, Felix points out the risks involved in each.

Mayday: A traditional wooden coaster with a wooden loop and wooden corkscrew. Felix explained that this is a very unsafe ride since wooden roller coaster cars can't go upside down on a wooden track. The cars would fall off. He says that it might sound cool, but lots of lawsuits could be in the company's future with this choice.

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