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Negative Brainstorming

How Negative Brainstorming Can Help You Generate New Ideas


Introduction to Negative Brainstorming


When brainstorming new ideas, most of us default to a positive approach. We think about what we want to achieve and then brainstorm ideas to help us get there. However, there’s another way to brainstorm that can be just as effective, if not more so: negative brainstorming.

The main difference between negative and traditional brainstorming is focusing on finding faults with an idea instead of trying to find ways to make it work. This type of thinking can be helpful in situations where you are stuck and need to find a new perspective. However, it should be used cautiously as it can lead to conflict and negativity.

Negative brainstorming is a powerful tool that can help unlock new ideas and solutions to problems. It is a variation of the traditional brainstorming technique where participants are encouraged to think of why an idea will not work and what would actually actually cause the business improvement to fail. This thinking can help uncover hidden assumptions and challenge existing beliefs. It can also lead to more creative thinking by forcing participants to think outside the box. negative brainstorming is a great way to generate new ideas, but it should be used with caution as it can lead to conflict and negativity.

What is Negative Brainstorming?

Negative brainstorming is a technique where, instead of thinking about what you want to achieve, you think about what you DON’T want to achieve. This might sound counterintuitive but bear with me. By focusing on what you don’t want, you can open up a whole world of possibilities that you may have never considered.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to develop ideas for a new product. If you take the positive approach, you might start by thinking about what features the product should have and what needs it should address. But if you take the negative approach, you might start by thinking about what features the product shouldn’t have and what needs it shouldn’t address. This can lead to many innovative new ideas that you would never have thought of otherwise.

How to run a Negative Brainstorming Session

So how do you go about negative brainstorming? Here are four steps to get you started:

1. Define your problem or challenge. What is it that you’re trying to achieve?

2. Flip it around. What is it that you DON’T want to achieve?

3. Brainstorm a list of possible solutions. Remember, there are no bad ideas at this stage!

4. Evaluate your options and choose the best one.

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Here are some tips for how to do negative brainstorming:


1. Set aside time for negative brainstorming. This exercise should not be done on the fly but instead given some time and thought beforehand.

2. Define the problem or challenge you are trying to solve. Be as specific as possible so that everyone is on the same page about your goal.

3. Generate a list of potential solutions. These can be wild and crazy ideas – there are no wrong answers at this stage!

4. Take each solution and think of all the reasons why it would not work. This is where you need to get creative and push yourselves to find flaws in each idea.

5. Once you have exhausted all the reasons why an idea won’t work, move on to the next and repeat the process.

6. After you have gone through all of the ideas, take a step back and assess what you have learned from this exercise. Are there any patterns or insights that you can glean from your discussion? What might be some potential next steps?



Negative brainstorming is a powerful tool that can help you generate all kinds of new and innovative ideas. So next time you’re stuck for ideas, try flipping your thinking around and approaching the problem from a different angle. You might just be surprised at what you come up with!

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Picture of Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell is a highly accomplished professional with 15 years of experience in building lean management programs for corporate companies. With his expertise in strategy execution, he has established himself as a trusted advisor for numerous organisations seeking to improve their operational efficiency.

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