The Good Thing About Bad Ideas

by Mitch Ditkoff

The Good Thing About Bad IdeasOne of the inevitable things you will hear at a brainstorming session is “there are no bad ideas.” Well, guess what? There are plenty of bad ideas. Nazism, for instance. Arena football. Bow ties.

What well-meaning “keep hope alive” brainstorming lovers really mean is this: Even bad ideas can lead to good ideas if the idea originators are committed enough to extract the meaning from the “bad”.

Do you think that War and Peace was written in one sitting? No way. There were plenty of earlier drafts that were horrid, but eventually led to the final outcome.

The key? To find the value in what seems to be a “bad idea” and then use that extracted value as a catalyst for further exploration. The following technique, excerpted from Awake at the Wheel, shows you how…


  1. Bring a challenge, question, or problem to mind.
  2. Conjure up a really bad idea in response to it.
  3. Tell another person about your bad idea.
  4. The other person thinks of something redeemable about your bad idea — and tells you what it is.
  5. Using this redeemable essence as a catalyst, the two of you brainstorm new possibilities.

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Mitch DitkoffMitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.

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  1. Woah Woah Woah! Cant knock arena football – they allow checking into boards. Now if you said Vince McMahon’s XFL then I would agree completely.

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