August 27, 2015 Anil Saxena

No, It’s Not Okay For You To Play Devil’s Advocate

Dear Meeting Colleague,
We are sorry to inform you that your request to play devil’s advocate cannot be accepted at this time. You’ve done a great job trying to identify everything that could go wrong with almost every idea that comes up in any meeting that you attend. That is commendable. You go above and beyond in your effort to make sure that we “see all sides.”

We applaud your knack for finding the flaws in any idea, but must deny your request at this time.

We know that the market is challenging, and it’s very likely that we haven’t thought of every single aspect of what could go wrong. Therefore, we are in dire need of a role we call “Ark Builder.”

The description is as follows:

• Nice to have:
◦ Sees that storm clouds are coming and can predict, or at least have some inkling, of what could happen when it rains
◦ Understands, and can articulate, what the problem might be when the rain does fall
◦ Can articulate the challenges and risks if substantial rain falls, and what the issues will arise
• Must have:
◦ Be able to clearly articulate their ideas on how to address the issues of the oncoming rain, such as building a large water floatation vehicle, developing a sandbagging plan, or other flood prevention/aversion plans
◦ Be willing to take on the work entailed in implementing such plans
◦ Understand that ideas may or may not be taken
◦ Be willing to take coaching and input from others
If this is a role that interests you, we welcome your application.

Unfortunately, this role has gone unfilled for too long. There is no increase in pay, but a vast increase in satisfaction and engagement for you – and everyone around you. For the company, you’ll actually be helping maintain productivity and minimize losses.
• •According to one survey, 78% of employees reported a loss of at least 3 hours a week because of complainers
• 11% of respondents said they’ve left a job because they couldn’t stand working with someone perpetually negative
• Unproductive time spent on problems (without finding solutions) can costs companies thousands of dollars per year, per employee
In fact, there’s really no application or interview process. Any time you want the job, it is yours for the taking…
As of now, however, the Devil’s Advocate role has been permanently filled. Your requests now – and all future requests – will be denied. We’re no longer interested in fielding complaints and criticism without proposed solutions.
Thank you…
Are there people you’d like to share this rejection letter with? Why?
What more might be possible if we took on the Ark Builder role, and focused on finding solutions instead of just highlighting potential problems?

Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.

Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


Cube 2.14 will increase your organizational effectiveness. We specialize in developing innovative, practical solutions to create productive workplaces that exceed goals.