Making Your Bad Ideas Great Ones

One of my favorite sources of good ideas is to create bad ones. Bad ideas, really bad ones, get the creative juices flowing. It helps me get in the flight or fight mode and do a better job exploring the challenge I’m being faced with.  Daniel Pink’s blog post: Why you should come up with at least 1 bad idea today features a Scott Adams article in the Wall Street Journal describing the concept of “the bad version.” From the Scott Adams article: “The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won’t. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.”

Creating the bad version of a scenario helps push the thought process to the extremes. In my previous post, we looked at how disruptive thinking can be polarizing and threatening to those protecting the status quo. The bad idea can help provide clarity and a new perspective to the core insights of the situation.

How to find bad ideas:

  • Change. Change is a great source of bad ideas since it disrupts the status quo and startles us out of our comfort zone. Economic downturn? Bad idea. Got laid off? Bad idea. Budget cuts? Stifling process changes? Social Media changing our paradigm of traditional marketing?  Bad, bad and bad.
  • Opportunity. Big opportunities provide excellent sources of bad ideas. As you look for new ways of doing things – create bad versions and run through the story. It will help you understand and push the limits of what you’re exploring. It may help provide new insights which can lead to your breakthrough.
  • Stagnation. Stuck doing the same thing for too long? Create bad versions of the status quo. What can be the potential horrendous consequences of maintaining things as they are? Flip it and brainstorm ideas that can help you transcend your current way of thinking.

Process for transforming bad ideas (inspired by the “Big Bad Idea” brainstorming technique by Jake Breeden):

  • Make the bad version emotional. I like to push my bad ideas to be as crazy as they can be because it stirs up emotions which help make the great ideas become more visceral.
  • The scenarios could be/should be fiction. The badder the better. Pushing the bad idea scenario to the edges of silliness can help get to the core of the issues. Brainstorm a number of bad version stories.
  • Deconstruct the bad ideas. Examine why the idea was so bad. Get to the core insight of what the issues are. Flip the core issue to be potentially positive and brainstorm on ideas on how you can make the good idea a reality.

Next time you’re looking to solve a problem or come up with a creative idea try brainstorming the bad version. It may hold the key for your next great idea.

About Scott Lum

Disruptive digital, social & content marketer with a passion for customer experience. Formerly with Microsoft.
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2 Responses to Making Your Bad Ideas Great Ones

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Making Your Bad Ideas Great Ones | Digital Marketing Muse --

  2. eric_camplin says:

    Love this concept & put it into practice yesterday with my team based on your tweet about the Dan Pink article last week. It really does help idea generation. Interesting how many of the proposed bad ideas are kinda good.

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