How to use ‘Bad’ Ideas to find the Best Ideas!

Every individual and organisation need to generate ideas, whether it’s for problem-solving, innovation, creative campaigns, planning or strategies. Brainstorming workshops is still by far the best way to generate a ton of ideas, in a compressed space of time.

However, if there is one thing that stifles the creativity of a brainstorming session, that is the fear that the idea that you propose is deemed as a ‘bad’ idea.

Try using the ‘No Bad Ideas Brainstorming’ exercise. Its incredibly simple, but incredibly effective.

No Bad Ideas is the name of this game

When inviting your attendees, make sure you make it clear that this is a ‘No Bad Ideas’ brainstorming meeting. This will start to prepare attendees for participation, as you need participation from everyone, its key for an effective session.

Present your topic

Before you start, remind your attendees of the purpose of your brainstorming meeting. Whether it’s a new business idea, project, campaign, issue; whatever it is, its essential you have just 1 topic per brainstorming session to create focus. Write the topic up and present clearly for all to see.

Invite Bad Ideas

Start your brainstorming with some prompt questions. For example if your brainstorming ways to grow your business, you could ask “one year from now, what will the business look like, and what do we need to do to get there?”. Get attendees to write ideas down individually on sticky notes to begin with. Invite all ideas, but in particular, tell attendees that you especially want the ideas that they feel are the worst ones!

Group, sort and organise

Once you have your first collection of ideas, post on the wall for everyone to see. Start to single out the best/worst ideas and group together. Single out all the bad ideas, and go through them with your team one by one, asking everyone to make counter-suggestions or comments. Make sure you capture every counter idea/comment, write these up and associate together. This is where the magic happens! You will find that by brainstorming around the bad ideas that you will start to hit on some hidden gems that otherwise may remain completely hidden!

Develop a Game Plan

After you are finished discussing, sorting and grouping ideas and have settled on a group of ideas to act on, its important you now create a ‘Game Plan’ or action plan. Simply allocate the ideas to task owners, and decide a completion date for the idea/task.

Track and execute!

Finally, photograph all your sticky notes, tasks and ideas on the wall for record and circulate around the team members following the meeting. If your brainstorming was for a campaign/project, it’s good to meet periodically to stay on track.


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Laurie McMullan

Founder of