SXSW Interactive 2013

The Power of Bad Ideas


In business and in life, we pursue the good stuff and champion people who are known for their good ideas. But when we place too strong an emphasis on just the good, we may neglect to consider the bad ones. In design and in brainstorming, deliberately seeking out bad ideas is a powerful way to unlock creativity. Generating bad ideas can reveal our assumptions about the difference between bad and good, and often seemingly bad ideas turn out to be good ones. Jotly and Cow Clicker were jokes/parodies (e.g., not good ideas) that have been surprisingly successful. Neil Young and Crazy Horse have covered folk songs. An action blockbuster features a US president swinging a silver axe against vampires. In this talk, I’ll explore how opening up the bad idea valve can lead unexpectedly to the kind of success we aim for with our good ideas.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What benefit can I get from deliberately coming up with bad ideas?
  2. How can bad ideas lead to good ideas?
  3. What do bad ideas reveal about our implicit standards for “good” and “bad”?
  4. What are some examples of presumptive bad ideas that are actually good idea?
  5. Is there a way to tell if my bad idea is really and truly a stinker?



Steve Portigal, Principal, Portigal Consulting

Meta Information:

  • Tags: creativity, design
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Entrepreneurialism and Business
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate

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