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The Power of Bad Ideas
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The Power of Bad Ideas

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In business and in life, we pursue the good stuff and champion people who are known for their good ideas. But when we place too strong an emphasis on just the good, we may neglect to consider the bad …

In business and in life, we pursue the good stuff and champion people who are known for their good ideas. But when we place too strong an emphasis on just the good, we may neglect to consider the bad ones. In design and in brainstorming, deliberately seeking out bad ideas is a powerful way to unlock creativity. Generating bad ideas can reveal our assumptions about the difference between bad and good, and often seemingly bad ideas turn out to be good ones. Jotly and Cow Clicker were jokes or parodies—that is, not good ideas—that have been surprisingly successful. Neil Young and Crazy Horse have covered folk songs. An action blockbuster features a US president swinging a silver axe against vampires. In this talk, Steve will explore how opening up the bad idea valve can lead unexpectedly to the kind of success we aim for with our good ideas.

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  • 1. 1 The Power of Bad Ideas @steveportigal
  • 2. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style We help companies discover and act on new insights about their customers and themselves Portigal
  • 3. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/user-interviews/
  • 4. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style Unleashing the bad-idea- creative-impulse Bad ideas, from the sketchbook into the world What can we do with all this? Today Who‟s bad? Shamone.
  • 5. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleDTDT: What do ya mean by bad? Bad is not the absence of good. It‟s not meh. Bad ideas go beyond prompting "That's stupid!" to eliciting a much stronger response. Bad ideas are worse than ineffective, unpleasant, unsuccessful, and ridiculous…they can also be dangerous, immoral, and bad for business!
  • 6. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style Bad Ideas in the Creative Process
  • 7. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleExercise: Come up with a really bad idea Write or sketch the worst idea for a product, service, feature that you can come up with Tweet your idea use #MyBadIdea
  • 8. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleExercise: Hand off your bad idea Pass your bad idea to someone else…
  • 9. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleExercise: Hand off your bad idea Pass your bad idea to someone else… Design the circumstances where that bad idea becomes a good one. Tweet your reframe use #MyGoodIdea
  • 10. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleThe ideation process Time Pace of idea generation Addressing needs with low-hanging fruit
  • 11. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleDon‟t forget your second wind Time Pace of idea generation Addressing needs with low-hanging fruit Innovative Breakthrough Wacky
  • 12. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBridging the humps Time Pace of idea generation Addressing needs with low-hanging fruit Innovative Breakthrough Wacky
  • 13. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleWe need a safe place to enable bad ideas Laugh at ideas, not people Trust and listening foster collaboration If you don‟t create that safe place for each other, this creativity won‟t happen
  • 14. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleTwo types of bad-idea-sharing The tentative, unfinished idea (“Okay, this isn‟t very good but…”) The deliberately zany idea! Recognize and support each of these appropriately
  • 15. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleThat makes me think of something else… Learn to hear that impulse where something presented as a “bad idea” starts you thinking...
  • 16. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleMcDonald‟s Theory I use a trick with co-workers when we‟re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald‟s. An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can‟t possibly go to McDonald‟s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic! It‟s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative. I call it the McDonald‟s Theory: people are inspired to come up with good ideas to ward off bad ones.
  • 17. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleCombinatorial Creativity This is one vector for creativity, based on combining stuff • Found in remix culture For us, it‟s about how the brain wants to reorient and redesign dissonance (e.g., a bad idea) The bad idea is valuable because it‟s a trigger to generate the next (possibly good) idea. Good design has an element of surprise or provocation, of grit in the emollient flow of appropriate aesthetics. -- Gillian Crampton Smith
  • 18. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleFrom improv: Yes, and… Process words are insightful • Throwing an idea • Accepting offers None of this great stuff works if you respond with a negative (e.g., reject the offer) All ideas are good; “bad” ideas may create more narrative advancement Chris Miller emphasizes that your task in improv is to make your partner look good.
  • 19. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleImprov Dark Patterns
  • 20. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleWhy is that a bad idea?
  • 21. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleRehearsal Note: That Bad Choice Could Be Useful
  • 22. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleDeep Thoughts About „Deep Thoughts‟ I brought in a bunch of “Deep Thoughts” for my student poets to read, discuss and, finally, imitate. They produced some of their best in-class writing to date: concrete, specific, original. Like Handey, they began with a form of writing that traffics in phony enlightenment and demonstrated how the form is more often in effect tranquilizing. Kathleen Rooney in the NYT Magazine
  • 23. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas make great batting practice Simply translating insights into solutions (even bad ones) is a win. We build up understanding of insights from working with them.
  • 24. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style When Bad Ideas Go Good
  • 25. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBreaking Bad Ideas
  • 26. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleSnakes. Why'd it have to be snakes? Spielberg has a moment in those transcripts, He‟s just sort of sitting along, going along with Larry and George. He‟s tossing some ideas out; frankly, a bunch of them are bad. You‟re thinking, “Gee, Steven Spielberg has some bad ideas.” Feet of clay, I‟m heartbroken somehow. And then suddenly he goes “I have a great idea. When he‟s in that temple he should set off a booby trap and there should be this enormous rolling boulder that comes after him. And he‟s running and this thing is just right behind him.” And you go, “Oh my God, he really did have a great idea, fully formed.” Scriptnotes podcast
  • 27. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleCow Clicker The Curse of Cow Clicker http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/12/ff_cowclicker/all/
  • 28. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleJotly Appsurd: In Silicon Valley, It's Hard to Make a Joke http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577404284117534706.html
  • 29. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleA joke in one context… Appsurd: In Silicon Valley, It's Hard to Make a Joke http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577404284117534706.html
  • 30. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleRock „n roll in the next Appsurd: In Silicon Valley, It's Hard to Make a Joke http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577404284117534706.html
  • 31. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleIsn‟t rock „n roll really about pursuing the bad idea? Appsurd: In Silicon Valley, It's Hard to Make a Joke http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577404284117534706.html
  • 32. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleAbraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
  • 33. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleAbraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter Appsurd: In Silicon Valley, It's Hard to Make a Joke http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577404284117534706.html
  • 34. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad and Good Food Ideas
  • 35. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad and Good Food Ideas
  • 36. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad and Good Food Ideas
  • 37. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad and Good Food Ideas
  • 38. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas stay bad
  • 39. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad is judged by the marketplace
  • 40. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad is judged by the marketplace
  • 41. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas feed art Mona Hatoum - Silence Made of glass, this life-size crib threatens any child in its care with shattering collapse and inevitable injury. In spite of its title, neither the crib nor the child would be likely to remain silent for long…She has said, "I see furniture as being very much about the body. It is usually about giving it support and comfort," but Silence is part of a series of furniture pieces the artist made which are more hostile than comforting.
  • 42. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style (Bad) Idea Thinking
  • 43. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleChallenging all of our assumptions The site Big Think has a series of provocations they call Dangerous Ideas. "These ideas may at first seem shocking or counter- intuitive—but they are worth our attention, even if we end up rejecting them."
  • 44. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleSatire and social commentary A Modest Proposal is the classic example of a deliberately bad idea used to critique circumstances where such an idea could even be articulated.
  • 45. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas ignite our imagination
  • 46. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas ignite our imagination
  • 47. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas ignite our imagination
  • 48. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas ignite our imagination
  • 49. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas ignite our imagination
  • 50. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleBad ideas ignite our imagination
  • 51. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleComedy and tragedy Appsurd: In Silicon Valley, It's Hard to Make a Joke http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577404284117534706.html
  • 52. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleThe horror. The horror.
  • 53. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleThe horror. The horror.
  • 54. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleContext is King Open to surprises Let your audience tell you Engineers say “if it works, it‟s not a stupid idea” (check this) Consider your context in order to assess • Art • Social change • Entertainment • $ • Technology • Etc.
  • 55. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleContext is King Open to surprises Let your audience tell you Engineers say “if it works, it‟s not a stupid idea” (check this) Consider your context in order to assess • Art • Social change • Entertainment • $ • Technology • Etc.
  • 56. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleLessons from ideas that might suck Consider your context Engineers say “If it's stupid but works, it's not stupid” Be open to surprises from yourself and your audience Wonder where it might lead Consider your criteria for success
  • 57. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title styleThe sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately. Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1795
  • 58. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever!
  • 59. The Power of Bad Ideas ‹#› Portigal Click to edit Master title style Portigal Consulting www.portigal.com @steveportigal steve@portigal.com +1-415-894-2001 Thank you!