Skip to main content

Ill-omen bird

Field of application

#Idea improvement
#Product design
#Service design
#Process design


Resume / Brief description

The moment an innovation team picks the best idea, is not the final moment. It's just the beginning. The chosen idea seems to be excellent. Has a lot of benefits and advantages. But... has any hidden problem too? Maybe. But for an excited team, happy with the new and powerful idea, finding weaknesses and problems in it, is a very difficult job. But it is a job that has to be done.

The ill Omen bird is a game that encourages the innovation team to find hidden weaknesses in the selected idea. This will be critical in the following stages (prototyping, validation, production) because ignoring them can cause delays, loss of credibility and, of course, extra expenditures.

In the Ill Omen bird, three to five teams compete to find reasons why the idea is going to fail and rate solutions provided by the other teams.

Category: Idea optimization


Target group

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

This game can be played by 3 to 5 teams of 1 to 6 people each.



The main objective of the game is to find possible weaknesses in the selected idea and find out possible solutions to them.




  • 20 to 60 drawings or pictures. You can use magazine clippings, or image decks showing objects, people, places, animals. You can also use the cards of some card games such as WakeUpBrain or Dixit.
  • 1 ill-omen bird format to write down problems and solutions (ideas)
  • 5 pencils, one for each team
  • 1 table
  • Digital board (Jamboard, Miró, Stormboard or any other). To prepare the board put 20 to 60 images on the first page of the board. As an alternative you can use simply the image search tool from a search engine (as google) and search for random words in order to get good images to work with during the game.
    Use another page of the board (or another space on the same page) to assign a space for each team to put their cards. You can sign those spaces with the name or the logo of each team. The writing or Pot-it tool will serve as "idea catcher"


  • 60 to 180 minutes
Implementation - Overview

One of the team will take the Ill Omen Bird rol and will use one of its cards or images to represent a possible problem that the idea can face. The other teams will use their own images to ideate solutions to that problem. The Ill Omen Bird team will give the image used to show the problem to the team with the best idea. Then the next team takes the Ill Omen Bird roll and a new round is played. A participant must take note of both the problem detected and the solutions proposed.


Implementation - Guidelines For face-to-face game

1. Prepare the necessary elements for the game. (see materials). The pile of images is placed on the table.

2: Each team draws five images out of the images pile. This group of images will be its initial hand.

3: One or two of the participants should play the role of observer and idea catcher. To do this, they must use the bird of evil format and a pencil. The note-takers can be part of a team or can be neutral.

4: One of the teams takes the role of the Ill Omen bird, and proposes aloud to the others a complication or problem, which can arise when executing the idea or when the solution being used by the final users. The team will use one of its images to represent such a weakness, problem or complication.

5: The other teams will have 2 to 4 minutes to watch their own images and think of a strategy to avoid or solve the problem inspired by one of them.

6: Next, in order beginning with the team left to the Ill Omen bird team, each of the teams shows their image and describes the solution out loud. The note-taker writes down every idea with all the details.

7: The Ill Omen bird team takes 2 minutes to select the best idea for its viability, effectiveness and levels of originality and gives the original image of the problem to that team as a win proof.

8: A point is awarded to the winning team. All teams discard the used image and take another from the central pile to have five again.

9: The Team left to the Ill Omen bird team takes that rol and a new round is played. The original Ill Omen bird team can now play as a solver.
10. The game finishes when each team has played the Ill Omen bird rol.

For virtual game:

Some adjustments can be done to play the game in a virtual environment.
- A good idea is to set a page with all the images on it.
- Define a space on the board (It can be a second page or a special space on the same page) as the playing space. Assign a private space to each team.
- In this version, the team images will be known by all the other teams, so let each team copy 5 images and paste them on their own space on the board.
- To show which image is using, each team can move it to the front of its space or mark it using the pen tool.
- All the other rules remain the same.
Example of application:

The bird of ill omen is a game created by the Innovation Center and has been used in different settings. One of the most recent scenarios is the Innovation Catalysts Program 2020, created by MINTIC (Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications of Colombia). This is a training program that develops the skills and competencies of teams coming from different public institutions. They must work on a challenge of their entity for 3 months of training under the modality of experiential learning (learning by doing) while receiving the guide of expert mentors. At the end of the training process, each pair will be able to present a prototype of an innovative solution to the challenge of their entity. The virtual version of the Ill Omen bird game was used once each team selected the idea they want to prototypate. For doing this, a special session was scheduled for each team. Every team brought "invited" participants in order to have new visions around the possibilities and weaknesses of the idea. All the games were played with 4 teams. The detected problems and possible solutions were used to re-design the idea and build a new version of the solution. The most important result was that each team become aware of all the weakness that a innovation team can ignore on the idea they have selected.


Templates, Graphics for download Ill Omen Bird Format
Additional format/references