This is a technique that can help to save the day when nothing else seems to be working and can re-ignite the energy levels of groups that are approaching creative burnout. The technique is simple: Ask the group to create a list of bad, terrible, stupid, illegal or gross ideas. This will get participants laughing and re-engaged. Once you’ve generated a list, challenge the group to turn those horrible ideas into good ones by either considering its opposite or by finding some aspect within a terrible idea that can be used to inspire a good one. As the facilitator, be sure to push your group to generate really bad ideas!
This technique works surprisingly well because it tends to mentally disarm brainstorming participants. They may feel under pressure to come up with a really Big Idea, but that often restricts their ability to be creative. By temporarily focusing on really bad ideas, it frees them to relax and have fun. Laughter is also a stepping stone to helping people generate surprising or unexpected connections – the basis of most humour. Plus, it’s the nature of our brains, when thinking about one idea, to simultaneously consider its opposite.
Another helpful way to think about the worst idea technique is “rooted” in nature: Many bad ideas can also contain the “seeds” of good ones. Consider each bad idea with the thought that at least some aspect of it has value, and make it your goal to find it.
Why not bring one or more of these powerful ideation techniques to bear on your next creative challenge? They may help you to generate your next multi-million dollar idea!