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(2 minute read)

“Okay everyone, we’re looking for ideas for our new marketing strategy. Let’s just throw some ideas out and let it snowball from there. Remember, there’s no such thing as a bad idea!”

We’ve all heard one before, whether we were in school, college, university or work. Someone calls on the team to share some ideas, utters some platitudes about all ideas being respected and then one brave soul pipes up with the first idea and is met with blank faces, sighs or even an outright “No, I don’t think so”. Ouch.

In any supportive environment, but especially when ideas are being generated, having an open attitude can lead to the development of fantastic plans.

In fact, why not try using the bad ideas stage as part of your next discussion? If you’re trying to think of an advertising campaign to increase brand awareness, ask your team to think of some terrible ideas for doing this.

Start by spending a few minutes thinking independently and jotting down your terrible ideas, making sure they are as bad as possible, then share them. Ask your team to collaboratively make their bad ideas worse and then pick the top worst ideas. Together, come up with a strategy that fits this terrible idea and write it down. Discuss why this idea is so bad. What are the concerns about this idea? Now turn your awful idea into something good.

Recognise the good in the bad: maybe that idea about giving every customer a bouquet of flowers isn’t the best business case, but what is the good in that idea? Maybe you do want to recognise the relationship and reward loyal customers – what about having a loyalty scheme and sending a gift once they’ve worked with you five times? Tell your team which bit you specifically like and then challenge them to investigate it further, or streamline what is being said.

Identify the sticking point and see if there’s a way around it: if you’re struggling to immediately see what’s good about that idea, work out which bit is causing the most problems and discuss it. It may spark better ideas, but it will certainly be a useful analysis tool.

Test it: it may be that you can foresee some potential issues, but aren’t entirely sure what they are. Ask one or two trusted clients if they would mind having a conversation about a potential new idea and talk them through it step-by-step, asking for their feedback as you go.

Have you tried this? Will you try this? Let us know!