Use Bad Ideas to Reach Good Ideas

When brainstorming for possible solutions, it does seems cliched to say "There is no such thing as a bad idea" or "There is no such thing as a stupid question". In both cases, it's how the idea is used or the question is answered that will determine whether some use will come out of them. You have to take the attitude that both can offer something towards solving your problem. If you are working with a group, the way to deal with latter is to have the question answered by someone who doesn't think it is a stupid question. If there is a consensus that the question is "stupid", it should be answered anyway with the person answering clarifying why they think so. Questions that have answers may lead to more questions, which spreads out the knowledge and information. Don't be surprised to find conflicting opinions when people clarify. People may disagree why a question is "stupid". Harness this to explore new ways at looking the problem. Use the difference of opinions to come out with new ones and maybe a different understanding of the problem.
There are also many uses for "bad ideas". Here are a few to start

  • Use the idea as starting point. Explain why the idea is stupid (even to yourself on paper) and then look at the opposite of those opinions.
  • Break an idea-block by using the idea and exploring it's possibilities. If it is the only idea you can come up with and you think it is a bad one, then there are probably similar ideas which may not be as bad. Continue finding ideas that are less "bad" using those similar ideas.
  • Break a deadlock between factions in a group. If the idea is something both sides can agree is not a good idea, then a common ground is created for cooperation. Work towards making sure the "bad" idea is not realized. Make the "bad" idea, the "villain" that all the factions must defeat
  • Use it as a club or disincentive. If the "bad" idea is the only one available, consider using it if no other way or a compromise is found. Consider that the only possible outcome and offer it if no alternative is found. Make the "bad" idea the Solomon decision. Don't be surprised if new ideas suddenly crop up
  • Use the idea to define the edges of reason. Create a boundary of where a discussion shouldn't go using that bad idea. But don't totally reject. Use them in the ways listed above.