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Ideation Techniques: Bad2Good

Bad2GoodIs it really possible to turn a really bad idea into a really great one? Absolutely.

Bad2Good is not only one of the most popular techniques we use with brainstorm groups, it’s extremely effective. As you might suspect from the name, the facilitator asks participants to come up with a list of really bad ideas. Nothing is “too bad" - distasteful, rude, crass, embarrassing, off-color. The worse, the better.

How about a car that automatically runs over pedestrians who cross against the signal? A new diet pasta that is mixed with worms and human hair, to get dieters to eat less? A new recycled product that’s good for the environment – like previously used toilet tissue? How much worse could you get? Keep trying.

What’s the point of such an exercise?

First, it “loosens up” the group. We have been taught to reject bad ideas, and therefore won’t allow ourselves to go there. By encouraging people to think outlandish thoughts, the creative process is jump-started.

Second, many bad ideas contain some provocative element, something powerful and compelling. By making a simple change, you can often turn a bad idea into a great one. A car that runs over slow pedestrians might not be practical – but one that senses pedestrians ahead and automatically brakes might be. A diet pasta mixed with worms and hair might not be such a palatable notion – but one fortified with extra protein and fiber might be.

Bad2Good can be a lot of fun. Give it a try next time your brainstorming. Be gross, outrageous, cynical. You just might come up with your BEST bad idea ever.