Brain Hack for Creating a Breakthrough Idea

by Bryan Mattimore
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“Creating a Breakthrough Idea ” Thinking Trick

I work as an innovation consultant to help companies invent, develop and launch innovative new products and services. In the over 1500 idea-generation sessions I’ve designed and facilitated in my career, I’ve often had to invent a new “ideation” technique to help our clients go beyond conventional thinking.
For instance, in a session to name a new strawberry and fudge ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s, I used cut-up slang dictionaries to inspire new names that would have the same, counter-culture feel of Ben and Jerry’s. This simple “slang dictionary” technique inspired the winning name: SNAFU, Strawberries Naturally All Fudged Up.
Of the scores of different creative thinking techniques we use in our work, one of the simplest, and most-productive is called the “Worst Idea” technique.
In this technique, instead of trying to come up with good or even great ideas, you (and/or your team) first generate the worst ideas you can think of. These ideas could be stupid, gross, politically-incorrect, sexually-inappropriate – or all of the above.
Then, after creating say, twenty of these stupid ideas, by simply either thinking of opposite of the worst idea – or better yet – saying to yourself “as bad as this idea is, is there anything in it that can inspire a good idea”… you should find it easy to turn several of these “worst ideas” into new, sometimes breakthrough ideas.
A simple variation of worst idea technique we recently invented to help increase adoptions for the NYC ASPCA is one we call the “Silly Idea” technique… Think dressing-up dogs in costumes for the Greenwich Village Halloween parade!


Bryan Mattimore
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