Why Bad Ideas are Good for Brainstorms

Time to Ban the “No Bad Ideas” Rule Of course there are bad ideas. Off-strategy, operationally-impossible or just plain silly ideas. To which we’re instructed to politely “yes and” in the name of unbridled creativity and team-building.  All smiles on the outside – while internally, brains are distracted with reasons why the no-bad idea won’t work. (INSTEAD of  thinking about the next good one!).  Not their fault. Creatives are naturally critical. Still, such a waste of brain power and focus.

I’m not suggesting we allow idea bullying – fresh won’t flourish in a hostile environment. But you can diminish a bad idea’s power by inviting some worse ones to the table first.  Two of my favorite breaking bad tricks:

Bad Company

  1. Quickly brainstorm ten really BAD ideas.  Feed mayo to the tuna type of bad ideas.  Off-brand, stock-dropping, make CEO fire the entire team kind of bad ideas. 
  2. Next, pick three of the bad ideas and imagine a top competitor executed them.  (We wish, right?)  Now, brainstorm how your company might react or benefit from the competitor’s bad move.
  3. Find a fresh competitive idea hidden among your (fictional) responses

Evil Knievel

  1. Before brainstormers arrive, post a list of 3-5 “Evils” – solution absolutes that can’t be crossed.  Things considered most “evil” to decision makers – like impacting retail operations or discounting product price.
  2. Divide into groups, giving each a different Evil and five note cards. Groups given 10 min. to brainstorm five ideas that ignore the evil.  Write one idea per note card.
  3. Groups swap note-cards (and Evils).  Give groups 15 min. to tweak at least 2 of the ideas so they are no longer Evil.

For more tips to better brainstorms email robyn@braintrax.com