July 03, 2008
The Good Thing About Bad Ideas

bartdunce.gif
"You can only be as good as you dare to be bad." - John Barrymore

One of the inevitable things you will hear at a brainstorming session is something like "there are no bad ideas." Well, guess what? There are plenty of bad ideas. Nazism, for instance. Arena football. Bow ties.

What well-meaning "keep hope alive" brainstorming aficionados really mean is this: Even bad ideas can lead to good ideas if the idea originators are committed enough to extract the meaning from the "bad." It happens all the time.

Do you think that War and Peace was written in one sitting? Madame Butterfly? The Idiot's Guide to Volkswagen Repair? No way. There were plenty of earlier drafts that were horrid, but eventually led to the final outcome.

Even diamonds begin as coal.

The key for aspiring innovators? To find the value in what seems to be a "bad idea" and then use that extracted value as a catalyst for further exploration. The following technique, excerpted from Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World) shows you how to do this. It's a particularly effective method for naysaying, skeptical groups to use. It's also a hoot and a great way to make boring brainstorming sessions come alive.

Click below for the technique:

HOW IT WORKS:

1. Bring a challenge, question, or problem to mind.
2. Conjure up a really bad idea in response to it.
3. Tell another person (or team) about your bad idea.
4. The other person (or team) thinks of something redeemable about your bad idea -- and tells you what it is.
5. Using this redeemable essence as a catalyst, you brainstorm new ideas, solutions, or possibilities that can actually DO something with.

Oh... if you don't feel like clicking back to the previous screen where you can find the link to my new book (which includes this technique and 33 other juicy ones), click here.

Or here. Or here. Or here.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at July 3, 2008 06:59 AM

Comments

I always thought that the purpose of saying "there are no bad ideas" was to encourage the free flow of ideas, in part by ensuring that ideas are not criticized by participants during the write-it-down phase of brainstorming.

Posted by: Dave Marcus [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2008 08:16 AM

Dave: Yes, you are correct.. That is the purpose of saying "there are no bad ideas." What I'm getting at is the attempt to help groups mine the value of "bad ideas." The other thing I'm getting at is that when facilitator's say "there is no such thing as a bad idea," they are, overstating their case a bit to make a point. For example, I would venture to say that if a participant in a brainstorming session suggested shooting the facilitator on the spot, that would qualify as, indeed, a "bad idea" -- regardless of how "open to all ideas" we want brainstormers to be. The technique I posted on the blog would help that group find something "redeemable" in the "kill the facilitator" idea that would both SAVE A LIFE and help the group conceive and execute a good idea that had its beginnings in a not-so-good idea (killing someone). For example, what's "good" about killing the facilitator would be "that it gives the brainstorm group a chance to lead their own session" or "not be micromanaged by the facilitator." If a group noodled on those two principles they might come up with the idea of a new groundrule -- that the facilitator had to be silent for various stretches of time during the session. (There are many other ideas that might emerge from the two "redeemable principles"). No one right way...

Posted by: Mitch Ditkoff [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2008 02:35 PM

Mitch, this reminds of the power of problems. New problems can often only be solved with new, creative, and innovative solutions. So, instead of fearing problems, using them as a springboard to new ideas is a wonderful way to get new ideas.

So coming up with a horrible solution, is like creating a "virtual problem" that requires new thinking.

Posted by: Robert Jacobs [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 3, 2008 06:37 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

MitchDitkoff.com
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling at Work
Storytelling at Work is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling in business – why it matters and what you and your organization can do to leverage the impact of storytelling in the workplace.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Authorized Reseller Logo – GoLeanSixSigma.com
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Webinars Powered by
Idea Champions University
Webinars for online training If you enjoy our blog, you will love our newly launched webinars! Our training is now accessible online to the whole world.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Featured in Alltop Guy Kawasaki's Alltop "online magazine rack" has recognized Idea Champions' blog as one of the leading innovation blogs on the web. Check out The Heart of Innovation, and subscribe!
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

"In tune with corporate America." — CNN
© IDEA CHAMPIONS