Why are Devil's Advocate Audits important?

No one is immune to making monumentally poor strategic decisions. Ford Motors had its Edsel. Steve Jobs his Newton. And Mahatma Gandhi completely misread Adolf Hitler.

We are all susceptible to persuasive presentations, overly-optimistic financial projections, and pressure to take courses of action demanded by important constituencies such as activist shareholders, current customers or key employees. It is extremely difficult to make decisions that meet the organization's near-term tactical objectives; longer-term strategic goals; placate various constituencies; are within the confines of all applicable laws and regulations; set sound precedent; engender broad support; and, can be practically implemented.

As if the stakes and intervening obstacles weren't high enough, the challenge of making intelligent decisions is compounded by the little time available for deliberation. The resulting pressure and time constraints are often accompanied by inadequate information--often the information at the disposal of decision makers is insufficient, biased, or just too voluminous to digest.

Making critical decisions is a solitary experience. Seeking advice from subordinates runs the risk of them losing confidence in you. Seeking advice from peers may make you appear weak and result in the launching of a series of political intrigues designed to replace you. While an executive may seek advice from Board Directors or investors, such overtures are ridden with danger as these counterparts harbor their own agendas.

For these reasons and many others, successful executives are most in need of Devil's Advocate Audits.