August 18, 2017
The Good Thing About Bad Ideas

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One of the inevitable things you will hear at a brainstorming session is "there are no bad ideas." Not true. There are plenty of bad ideas. Nazism, for instance. Arena football. Bow ties.

What well-meaning "keep hope alive" brainstorming lovers 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".

Do you think that War and Peace was written in one sitting? No way. There were plenty of earlier drafts that were horrid, but eventually led to the final outcome.

The key? Finding the value in what seems to be a "bad idea" and then using that extracted value as a clue or catalyst for further exploration. The following technique, excerpted from Awake at the Wheel, shows you how...

HOW IT WORKS:

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1. Identify a challenge worth brainstorming.

2. Conjure up a bad idea in response to it.

3. Tell someone about your bad idea.

4. Ask the other person to express something redeemable about your bad idea -- an aspect of it that has merit.

5. Using this redeemable essence as a clue, brainstorm some new possibilities

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 18, 2017 06:59 AM

Comments

One brainstorming approach I've heard of is to think of what you don't want to have in a product - what would make it really really awful and then extrapolate to the opposite. This can help surface aspects that may not be addressed when thinking about ideal solutions.

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