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Bad ideas

Field of application

#Creativity skills development


Resume / Brief description

This is a wonderful game that permits to explore truly innovative solutions starting from what, at first sight, look like bad ideas.

This game is very useful when the ideation team is blocked and cannot generate more creative ideas to solve the challenge or the problem.

The tool uses the fact that a "bad idea" can be the origin for a new provocative and disruptive innovation. An idea can be labeled as bad because of its low capacity to solve the problem, the undesirable consequences that can bring or because of its low viability. But normally this classification is assigned in a fast and subjective way. Once a person listens to an idea that, because its previous experiences, seems to be "bad", its brain rejects it and no more "thinking power" is invested in it. But it is not infrequent that if the ideator tries to find the hidden potential of the idea, that label can be easily removed and the creative process can advance in a new route.
This is the basis of the Bad ideas technique. In short, Bad ideas is a game that encourages ideators to embrace "bad ideas" and use them to create new concepts with high potential.


Category: Ideation


Target group

  • Entrepreneurs
  • I&D teams
  • Innovation teams
  • Students
  • Community
Group size

2 to 10 teams with 2 to 4 members.



Generate potentially disruptive new ideas to solve a challenge or a problem or to ideate a new concept for a product or service.


  • Paper cards (7 x 10 cm is a good size)
  • Pens 
  • digital board (Google Jamboard, Microsoft board or other)


  • 20 to 60 minutes
Implementation - Overview The main steps are:
- Define the problem or main objective
- Ask all the participants to write down as many "bad ideas" as they can
- Build the teams
- Ask the teams to transform as many "bad ideas" into "great ideas" as they can
- Let the teams to present their best "great ideas"

Implementation - Guidelines

1. The first thing you need to have is the problem. This can be a specific problem (For example to decrease damage of products during transportation) or simply a situation in which you want to innovate (for example the design of your new store).

2. Once the objective has been defined and communicated to the participantes ask them to write down as many "bad ideas" as they can. Explain them that a bad idea is an idea that has one of the following three defects:
- Doesn´t solve the problem (or even make the situation worse)
- Is impossible to execute
- Has undesirable consequences

Encourage them to be really creative and wicked generating those bad ideas. "The worst the better" is the main slogan.
Ask them to write the ideas following this indications:
- Write just one bad idea per card
- Use big and readable writing. (This is important as all those ideas are going to be read by other people)

3. Break the group into teams of 2 to 4 members

4. Give the teams a short time (15 to 20 minutes can work well) to transform as many "bad ideas" into "great ideas" as they can. Give this indications to clarify the idea transformation process:
- It is mandatory to accept the bad idea. This means that if the idea says: "use rats". The transformed idea MUST use rats.
- A transformed idea is an idea that, following the initial bad idea, has found a way to execute it in a way that effectively accomplishes the original objective in a surprising way. Following the previous example, the team can propose tu use "Mickey mouse and his friends to..." The idea follows the "use rats'' directive and found a creative way to get the desired results.
- Teams can use the other side of the card to write the Great idea (the transformed version of the bad idea)

5. Great ideas show. Let the teams present their best "great ideas". Be sure that all the details of the transformed ideas are in the card. The collection of cards is the output of the session.


Example of application:

Even though the Bad Ideas technique is a powerful tool to be used in productive environments, It's also a good way to train students in creativity thinking. The following experience of a public university is a good example of this. As part of the "Creative thinking" class, students from different faculties played "Bad ideas" using a common purpose: To motivate students to use bicycles.

The 50+ students of the class contributed with more than 100 bad ideas. It was a funny but very productive exercise. Some of the bad ideas proposed were:

- To give free bicycles to every student
- No other vehicle than bicycles can enter the campus
- You can take your bicycle to your classroom
- Competition: the highest bicycle pyramid
- Bicycle test as part of the admission process

But the best part was the transformation phase. The students, organized in teams, worked deliriously to transform all the bad ideas into great ones.
Several of them (As the actual App that gives points for every day the student arrives on bicycle to the university that can be later converted into services or the now famous bicycle parade) followed its path to real execution.


Templates, Graphics for download N/A
Additional format/references