Devil’s or Angel’s Advocate: Which role do you prefer?

We all know how to play the Devil’s Advocate. By playing this role, we stimulate a discussion in which we  challenging ideas, in order to improve them. But how do you get your ideas to start with? This is where the Angel’s Advocate come in: A positive and inspiring approach to come up with great new ideas!

The Angel’s Advocate is a technique to stimulate creative and positive thinking, and to come up with new ideas. You use this technique by asking people come up with an idea. Group members then react by saying what they like about the idea, what benefits they see and how it could create value. This motivates the submitter of the idea, and encourages the group to come up with more positive ideas. The group members become engaged, and will stimulate each other to think creatively (some would call it “thinking outside the box”, but actually there are no boxes 😉 ). Critical remarks are not allowed during the session. All ideas are collected during the session, e.g. on a flip chart, and at the end the group can pick the ones which are most promising, and decide when and how to implement them.

You may say that the Angels Advocate looks like a brainstorm session, but there is a big difference. The role of the Angel’s Advocate is to explicitly react positively on ideas, thus rewarding the submitter for her/his contribution. Where in a brainstorm, members of the group do not state any opinion about the ideas, neither negative or positive. By acknowledging the contribution, a positive culture is established which stimulates creativity. That is also why the Angels Advocate has been incorporated into the Golden Rules for Agile Process Improvement.

There can be a place and time to be critical and be the Devil’s Advocate, but we need more positive thinking, and more Angel’s Advocates. This technique, and related methods like Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focused (in Dutch: Oplossingsgericht Werken) helps you to come up with ideas, and deliver creative value.

(This blog was posted feb 23, 2011, and updated dec 15, 2012: Extended with background of the Angels Advocate and references to related posts).

About Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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3 Responses to Devil’s or Angel’s Advocate: Which role do you prefer?

  1. Pingback: The Business Value of Agile Retrospectives | Bridge Global IT Staffing

  2. Mahroz Nakhaie says:

    Great one thanks for sharing!!

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  • Ben Linders – Independent Consultant Agile, Lean, Quality, and Continuous Improvement

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