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June 29, 2016
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The Power of Bad Ideas

June 29, 2016

When was the last time you were asked to share a bad idea? Probably never! Society rewards great ideas, and generally de-values bad ones all together. But we've stumbled onto something surprising about ideas. Intentionally generating bad ideas can help shake us out of our comfort zone to create something beautiful. This is the story of how a recent SmallBox client workshop with IUPUI ascended to great heights by putting bad ideas first.

Teaching the Teachers

The Division of Undergraduate Education recently brought SmallBox in for a morning workshop dedicated to learning the Design Thinking process. Little did they know we had an agenda full of tricks up our sleeves to help them embrace a new, highly collaborative and creative way of working.

Things like:

  • Face to face interviews amongst people who had never met.
  • Drawing!
  • Bad idea generation.

Our workshops often begin with background on the subject matter and stories, but it can always be a little tricky to create an environment of openness amongst a group of new faces, especially within a large institution such as a university. This is why we begin each phase of the session with warm up activities to get the creative juices flowing. Immediately after each warm up, a collaborative exercise occurs which can include interviewing, mapping, open ideation, rapid prototyping and lots of small group conversation.

IUPUI Interviews


Sketch On!

For this workshop, we had chosen a common problem space to use explore and practice solving: Workplace Health. Small teams of attendees had interviewed each other, identified challenges and a single statement to use in our ideation phase:

“How might we promote healthy habits in the workplace?”

Here’s where the fun really began! We asked everyone to sketch 5 bad ideas to promote healthy workplace habits and present to their team. This generated some awesome and hilarious sketches like:

  • Fire people who don’t get on board.
  • Only have McDonald’s in the food court.
  • Shock collars for everyone who doesn’t participate.
     

Get Sketchy


You get the idea. The best part of all, though, was the amount of joy and laughter present at that moment and throughout the rest of the session. The mood certainly changed from uncertainty to openness. Immediately after this the teams started generating great ideas, were invested in the activity and hit their collaborative stride. Everyone was having such a blast that we almost needed a mega phone to wrap up the exercise.

Who knew that one way to open the floodgates to good ideas is to get some bad ones out of the system? And don't toss those out too quickly! Bad ideas can spark something and be built upon, sometimes leading to surprisingly good ideas.
 

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