This morning, I read this interview with Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm - the creators of the show Workaholics on Comedy Central. They describe how they brainstorm together to come up with ideas for the show. To me, the most fascinating portion of the interview addresses the issue of how they "put the brakes on an idea." Anders Holm explains that you don't want the same person always being the individual who is reining the group in or pruning ideas:
Adam: I don’t think any of us have a real problem, being like,
“Naaaah,” to an idea. Because it’s not hurting our feelings, it’s just
an idea and we’ll come up with a new one. We try not to be too precious
with any of these ideas. And we’ve worked together now--like really,
really worked hard together--for the last six, seven years. So we’re
really comfortable knowing whether the guys are gonna love this one. Or
the guys aren’t gonna love this one but I’m gonna keep pitching it
Anders: You gotta juggle that role around or else all of a sudden
somebody becomes the cop. Then as soon as that person speaks it’s like,
“Uhhhhggg, here comes the cop.” For us everybody puts on the badge every
once in awhile.
I'm in agreement about avoiding the conversation cop phenomenon. In working with executives, I often talk about the value of assigning someone to play the role of devil's advocate to enhance the quality of high-stakes decisions. However, I argue that a group should rotate the responsibility for playing the devil's advocate. Otherwise, that person can become a broken record, and other group members can begin to downplay the arguments put forth by the constant critic.