Under the heading of Invite a Challenge, I like this post from Rob at Business pundit called, Don't Fear the Devil's Advocate. Here's a snippet:
Employing a "devil's advocate" is one way to fight the Abilene Paradox. If you're lucky enough, one is already on your team. If not, you may have to designate one. Whether or not you employ their talents, or coach them through the process of making a counterargument is totally up to you as a leader.
I am a big fan of welcoming naysayers and devil's advocates into the conversation. Not only is it a great way to unearth diverse ideas, it helps enroll people into the process and be a productive part of the team. Naysayers make great evangelists!
Here's a wee bit from Focus Like a Laser Beam, chapter 6, Invite a Challenge:
Inviting a challenge can save your leadership hide. If you establish an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their concerns and questioning actions and decisions, you are more likely to catch mistakes and head off problems before something truly bad happens. If you come across as defensive in meetings or demonstrate that you do not want to be made look wrong, you will not benefit from helpful information that others could share. Your peers, managers, and team members are in a position to see problems as they emerge. You want to know what’s happening as soon as possible; otherwise your options for dealing with issues will quickly diminish.
Inviting a challenge can be a wonderful and enjoyable experience when leaders keep their egos from getting in the way. It is human to feel embarrassed when someone finds and communicates a mistake or potential misstep. You may feel inadequate or attacked when challenged in front of a group during a meeting. If it is important for you to appear in control or look good in front of others, you might find that inviting a challenge is the greatest challenge of all. Regardless of how easy or difficult you find it to invite challenges, you cannot obtain laser focus if you are not engaged in tuned dialogue about important work priorities. If your information is filtered or incomplete, you cannot possibly make the best judgments and your results will suffer. To combat this, redefine success as in a way that makes those around you comfortable with and committed to sharing their feedback, concerns, and ideas. When you invite a challenge, you have greater control of your business and your results make you look good.
Key Point: You want to know what’s not going well and when things are working.
Bring it on! Take on this mantra for a month and see how this impacts your focus and results.
I like the notion (mentioned in Robs post) about designating a devil's advocate if there is not one on the team. Doing so will spice up the conversation and improve the outcome.
Speaking of the devil's advocate and spice, ever see the movie Devil's Advocate? Al Pacino is amazing and the film is very provocative.