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Worst Idea Ever

One of my favorite tools to use when working on your goals and coming up against an obstacle that you don't know how to overcome is the worst idea ever.

Let me explain. When we are stuck, our brains are going over the same material. You're a smart woman. You've already thought of all the ways it won't work. You've probably tried a variety of methods to solve your problem. When they haven't worked, you've given your mind "proof" that the problem is hard to solve. In that mental space, you are stuck.

You've gone through all the good ideas, so let's do the opposite and come up with the worst ideas.

These ideas could include:

  • Ideas that would achieve the opposite

  • Ideas that are over the top and impractical

  • Ideas based on resources or technology that doesn't exist

  • Ideas that go against convention

  • Ideas that have a significant flaw in logic

Even more fun – have your spouse or friends help you come up with terrible ideas.

I challenge you to write down your problem and then list 20 or more intentionally bad ideas – the worse, the better. Here's an example:

Problem: How can I help my child get to bed without losing my mind?

Terrible ideas:

  1. Ignore him

  2. Have no bedtime

  3. Skip the whole bedtime routine

  4. Yell every step at him

  5. Stand by him, hovering until he does every step

  6. Don't let him sleep in his bed if he doesn't do his routine

  7. Feed him lots of sugar at bedtime

  8. Hire a babysitter to do the bedtime routine

  9. Let him watch TV until he falls asleep

  10. Make it a competition between him and his sister

  11. Don't make him shower for days

  12. Get him ugly pajamas he has to wear if he's not ready for bed on time

  13. Blast obnoxiously loud music until he does what he's supposed to

  14. Go to bed before him

  15. Make every part of his bedtime routine related to legos somehow

  16. Have a bedtime app that earns him points for doing his routine (that's actually a good idea)

  17. Let him sleep all day and stay up all night

  18. Have a cannon shot announce when the bedtime routine starts

  19. Make bedtime routine into scavenger hunt every night

  20. Make him put me to bed instead

(That was my solo attempt to get 20 bad ideas. I think I could have done better with help from others.)

Unexpectedly, you may have noticed that you thought some of the "bad" ideas were good. It's funny how that happens, leading us to the next step.

After you have all the bad ideas as inspiration, see if you can flip each into a decent idea. Challenge yourself to create one or more genuine ideas from each bad idea. Are any of your bad ideas actually good?

This style of brainstorming – the worst idea ever – is just one of many tools you can use to break through, create new ideas, and open up to moving forward when you feel stuck.

Next time you are with your girlfriends, try it out. As moms, we have lots of similar problems. Ask your friends to give you their worst ideas for solving your current problem. You'll probably laugh a lot, come up with some extremely terrible ideas and open your mind up to some solutions that will work.


Liedtka, J., Ogilvie, T. & Brozenski, R. (2014). The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step-by-Step Project Guide. Columbia Business School Publishing. ISBN-10: 023116467X; ISBN-13: 978-0231164672

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