Worst Possible Ideas

Brainstorm badly characteristics for your product and turn them into characteristics that are good for the product.
Number of ParticipantsFacilitatorsCategoryDurationLevel of Difficulty
3-51 Moderator, 1 NotetakerIdeation Phase60minSimple

Description

The Worst Possible Idea method is a Design Thinking technique and ideation method.
Team members seek the worst solutions in ideation sessions. The «inverted» search process relaxes, boosts confidence and stokes creativity. Due to these attributes it can also be used as an icebreaker-style technique. The method also helps to break out of familiar thought patterns this is why it is a useful tool to solve problems in an innovative way.
More than that participants focus on the big picture and on understanding concepts by using this method.

Materials

  • Whiteboard and markers, or
  • Pens and Paper

Preparation

No preparation needed.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Create as many worst possible ideas as possible
  2. List all bad characteristics of the worst ideas
  3. Identify what makes these characteristics so bad
  4. Find the opposites to the characteristics (good characteristics)
  5. Based on the good characteristics create good ideas

Remarks, Tips, Limitations

Benefits

there are little judgmental issues as participants in general do not identify themselves with their bad ideas that much
can be funny and motivate the team
hardly needs any training/experience
method facilitates emergence of pragmatics (eg prototypes)
anyone can be involved in bad ideas session

Limitations
  • requires good facilitation to keep the ideas flowing
  • requires time to transform ideas from bad to good
  • can reduce personal attachment
  • can be embarrassing (this mainly refers to shy people)
  • ideas should be bad enough for further transformation
  • conditions in which facilitation takes place are difficult to control and highly variable
Tips
  • Include all suggestions
  • Do not laugh at the person, but at the idea
  • Mutual listening and cooperation as otherwise no creativity comes together

References

Evans, N. (2012). Destroying collaboration and knowledge sharing in the workplace: A reverse brainstorming approach. Knowledge Management Research and Practice, 10(2), 175–187.
Learn how to use the best ideation methods: Worst Possible Idea. URL: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/learn-how-to-use-the-best-ideation-methods-worst-possible-idea (Retrieved 02.05.2020)
Portigal, S. (2017). Video: https://medium.com/10x-curiosity/worst-possible-idea-998e5b400ae5 (Retrieved: 29.04.2019)
Silva, P. A. (2010). BadIdeas 3.0: a method for creativity and innovation in design. Proceedings of the 1st DESIRE Network Conference on Creativity and Innovation in Design, 154–162.
Wilson, C. (2011). Method 4 of 100: Reverse Brainstorming. URL: https://dux.typepad.com/dux/2011/01/this-is-the-fourth-in-a-series-of-100-short-articles-about-ux-design-and-evaluation-methods-todays-method-is-called-rever.html (Retrieved: 29.04.2019)
Worst possible idea. URL: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/worst-possible-idea (Retrieved: 29.04.2019)
Worst. URL: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/worst_3 (Retrieved: 29.04.2019)

Contributed by Stefanie Bächler, Sabrina Brodesser, Atika Jabbar.