Become a better brainstormer with this simple technique

Design Methods 101: Inverse Brainstorms.

This is a really bad idea!


Inverse brainstorms takes off the pressure of getting things right and puts people in the perfect place for generating ideas, often leading to unexpected breakthroughs.


We always try to make things beautiful, but what would happen if we went for the opposite? Ask your self the question:

’What would it be like if we tried to make this thing really ugly or non-functional?

This question often leads to series of fun, provocative suggestions, which has the potential of re-opening the project and bring new inspiration to solutions, which, by the way, often turns out very beautiful.


I often run into the problem of people trying to get things ‘right’ the first time. This often results in tiresome workshops where people ‘think’ instead of ‘do’. Going for the opposite takes off the pressure of getting things ’right’ and puts people in the right state for generating ideas. My experience is that people start to relax and have more fun during brainstorming workshops. Plus, it often leads to unexpected and excellent perspectives, which no one would have thought of otherwise.


Look for the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve and formulate the challenge. For instance:

’How might we provide a horrifying retail shopping experience for people with a handicap?’


‘How might we ensure that we are losing money on our home insurance product?’

Just like in any other brainstorm, get your brain to relax and go for divergent thinking. Everything is allowed, the wilder the better. Build on each other’s ideas and go for quantity. ’Inverse brainstorm’ works well as a warm-up exercise before moving into a different type of brainstorm session.

One last thing: Use music. It helps people relax and makes the room more vibrant. I can recommend using Flamenco. Yes Flamenco.

Here’s a nice playlist to get started!

Take care, No

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