Sometimes a team’s creative results can be improved by offering them a new perspective. Take the process of brainstorming for example. Brainstorm the opposite of what you want and see what happens. The tool is called a contingency diagram, and this is how it works.
Imagine your team is supposed to brainstorm ideas for increasing customer loyalty. Instead of looking for ideas to improve loyalty, the team brainstorms ways to decrease customer loyalty. Trying to improve employee morale? Brainstorm ideas for destroying morale.
The tool’s power is in its ability to harness negative energy (cynicism, sarcasm, hostility, etc.) and use it to spark creativity. If your team is in this type of mood, it’s very difficult to build excitement for brainstorming. By giving them a chance to vent their negativity, you will witness amazing creativity.
After the team has filled the wall with ideas for lowering morale or chasing away customers, you are ready to get down to identifying potential solutions to your problem.
Ask the team to analyze the list and develop ideas for solving the problem. Many solutions can be found simply by reversing the ideas on the list. Others can be discovered through patterns and interesting combinations of negative ideas. In either case, the list of “bad” ideas is a tremendous stimulus for generating “good” ideas.
Next time you face the same old problems and a team tired of trying to solve them, cut the team loose on ways to make the problem worse. It will be fun, energizing, and most of all…effective.