Suggest A Bad Idea To Prompt Better Ideas From Others

Suggest A Bad Idea To Prompt Better Ideas From Others

Half of the problem with collective indecisiveness is blank slate syndrome. Blogger Jon Bell recommends providing a poor suggestion to a group in order to get better ideas from everyone involved.

Picture: Juhan Sonin/Flickr

Coming up with an idea out of the ether is difficult. Whether it’s deciding where to eat, or picking a group activity, conjuring up something everyone will enjoy is a daunting task. If your group is stuck in a rut, try offering an option that nearly everyone will dislike, and they may be more inclined to come up with something better. For Jon Bell and his group, recommending McDonald’s seems to get the brain juices flowing:

An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!

It’s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative. I call it the McDonald’s Theory: people are inspired to come up with good ideas to ward off bad ones.

The concept works on more than just meal locations. Creativity is born out of brain movement, not stagnation. If you find yourself struggling to come up with a good idea, start with a bad one and try to build on it.

McDonald’s Theory [Jon Bell]


  • This is similar to how I get a technical solution out of my engineers.
    I used to ask them for one, and they’ll tell me all the multitude of reasons why they can’t possibly give me a single solution, etc etc.
    Now I simply tell them how they will do it, and then quietly wait for them to tell me how they will actually do it.
    I get my solution quicker, and they think they’ve saved the business.

  • It works great until one other person thinks your idea is good and groupthink takes over

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