Help your team break free from a creative rut by going from bad to worse to create greatness. Worst Possible Idea is a lateral thinking technique where you purposefully seek out the worst solutions to a challenge and can be used to provide disruptive insight within the ideation process.
While everyone should feel free to explore all possibilities during a creative ideation session, some participants may feel reluctant to offer input. Especially when the expectations or stakes are high, some participants will be terrified to say something wrong. By flipping the playing field and searching for the craziest, awful and superbly stupid solutions, nobody can look silly.
The Worst Possible Idea process can help participants to relax, boost their confidence and ignite their creativity by taking the pressure off, giving people permission to be playful and adventurous. When participants start to feel more at ease about offering their thoughts, they’re better able to break out of rigid thought patterns in order to see new perspectives and generate novel ideas.
Worst Possible Idea is typically used during the creative ideation stage, as it can be a highly effective method to kickstart the creative process. After participants deconstruct the terrible ideas, they can find powerful insights that may serve as the foundations for later brainstorming sessions. This technique works well as a warm-up activity before further ideation, such as Crazy Eights, or when you need to re-energise your participants during a creative low.
Instead of encouraging participants to come up with new and useful ideas, during Worst Possible Idea, you need to push for increasingly ridiculous ideas. What would the most ill-advised, unrealistic or unhelpful approach be?
Start by picking a challenge to ideate for. If you’ve defined your problem, then this can be the starting point. However, if you’re using this as a creative warm-up activity, then you can pick any challenge you like - hypothetical or real.
Once you explain to participants what the rules are - that is, bad ideas only - set a timer for five minutes and get participants to braindump their bad ideas onto sticky notes. The aim is for quantity over quality - remember, no idea is off-limits! You can prompt participants by asking questions like:
Once the time is up, get participants to share some of their worst ideas and have a laugh!
If you want to take this technique a step further, you can get participants to investigate the attributes of the ideas that make them really bad. If you have multiple groups, you could get participants to pass their ideas to the next group. Then you could ask each group to think of the circumstances in which the previously bad ideas would become a good idea (eg: what would be the worst idea’s opposite?).