Reverse brainstorming (also known as negative brainstorming) is a method that uses brainstorming to generate bad solutions to the problem, and then see how those could be transformed into good solutions. The reverse brainstorming lets you create unusual and wild ideas if the brainstorming process fails to meet the requirements.

Reverse brainstorming illustration

In reverse brainstorming, the participants are given a prompt related to a challenging problem to be solved or a complex scenario in which specific results are to be achieved. They are asked to generate multiple ideas about how to cause problems or to achieve the opposite result from that required.  Then, by their reversing these suggestions, solutions to the original problem may be revealed. Thinking in reverse often brings to light problems that may currently exist in the system, and simply a reduction in these may result in solving the problem, reaching the required results, or improving performance.

How to Perform Reverse Brainstorming?

The reverse brainstorming method involves five steps to create designs professionally. The negative thinking allows the participants to perceive solutions that they would otherwise consider unthinkable.

Reverse brainstorming steps

  1. Identify the Problem – Identify a design challenge and write it down.
  2. Reverse the Problem: For example; instead of asking ‘how can I help? Ask ‘How can I make it worse?
  3. Collect Possible Solution: Brainstorm to figure out all possible reverse solutions. Everything is possible: reject nothing!
  4. Reverse Solutions: Flip the reverse solutions to create real design solutions for the actual issue.
  5. Evaluate the Ideas: Evaluate and decide if a real solution can be formed.

The above steps start and end in a similar matter to the ordinary brainstorming process. However, the inner steps are reversed to reach the best solution through understanding the worse cases.

Reverse Brainstorming Example

  1. Identify the Problem: Is that website visitors do not stay on the website for enough time or interact with the website content as expected?
  2. Reverse the Problem: The team asks a question about how to drive the users away from the website and reduce the interaction level.
  3. Collect Possible Solution: the methods that can drive the user away from the website rather than visiting and interacting with it.
    • Build complex navigation so users cannot find the desired content
    • Choose a disturbing color theme and hard to read fonts
    • Host the website on a slow server
    • Use large files that are hard to load
  4. Reverse Solutions: reverses all these methods to reach the possible solutions for the problem.
    • Build easy navigation and clear website structure
    • Choose a comfortable color theme and easy to read fonts
    • Choose a reliable hosting service that ensures speed website loading
    • Optimize the website content so users can view it properly
  5. Evaluate the Ideas: determine which of these methods do not apply to the website and how to apply the needed methods to solve the user interaction problem.

Reverse Brainstorming Templates

Reverse brainstorming template

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Reverse brainstorming diagram template

Edit this Reverse Brainstorming Template