Reverse brainstorming: turning the problem upside down to define the worst case scenario


The worst case scenario

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Discover the Reverse Thinking template, which refers to imagining the worst in order to generate a maximum of ideas. This brainstorming tool, to be used as a team at the beginning of your project management or to break through a situation or problem, reverses your perspective in order to free up your thinking and your imagination. The solutions then appear by themselves!

Lead a brainstorming session to stimulate your collective creativity

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to think of a solution, you just can’t come up with a good idea... Try this simple inverted brainstorming tool: think in reverse! What does that mean? Instead of looking for what you need to do to achieve the goal, list everything that would make you fail. Once the ideas are shared, select the most relevant ones, and reverse them again. And then, you will get some concrete solutions to implement to solve your initial problem.

This brainstorming method, also known as the “worst-case scenario” or “inverted brainstorming”, is commonly used in risk management, and is easily integrated into the management of any type of project.

Why use this amazing and effective brainstorming tool?

Sometimes it’s easier to find solutions to a problem by looking at it the other way around. This is the aim of the Reverse Thinking template. Whether you and your team are together in a room, or some are working remotely, there’s nothing to stop you from thinking up everything that could lead to this reverse question.

According to Albert Einstein, “You can’t solve a problem using the same kind of thinking that created it.” This is why the way we define a problem limits our imagination. By working on the opposite of the problem, and, therefore, in a way considering the worst, a disruption is created in our usual thinking frameworks. This disruption brings a dose of the unknown and the unexpected to fuel a new flow of creative ideas. So, this type of brainstorming can help you to solve a problem as a team.

On any device, think with your team of the worst ideas to reverse them into efficient ones.

Using the reverse thinking technique with the Klaxoon template

Start by filling in the date and purpose of this creative workshop. Identify your problem, then formulate the problem as a question. For example, “What could we do to improve our customer satisfaction?”. Then, rephrase the question backwards in the Ideation section: this would become “What could we do to ruin our customer satisfaction?”

Now, let’s brainstorm ! Invite your team members to the whiteboard first, then use the timer to set a limit to this creative phase. All the participants then send in their ideas to lead directly to the worst-case scenario. 

For our previous example, some ideas like “being rude to our customers” or “changing our prices randomly” would work. Don’t hold back! Everyone then votes with the “like” button to select the “worst” ideas being shared.

Then, transfer the ideas to the box below, by duplicating the columns with the “+” symbol as many times as there are ideas. You can switch to list view to see the key ideas emerging.

You can then use the timer again to work as a team in the next phase: turn each negative proposition into its positive opposite. With our example, we would end up with “being polite and respectful to customers”, “encouraging a transparent and rational pricing policy”,... Share and refine new ideas, for example, by using the Question tool to collect a word cloud under an idea. You can also visualize the answers to your Questions in a list view, in order to see the answers in a different way.

The last phase of this brainstorming methodology consists of defining the actions to be carried out as a result of each solution found at your last step. All you have to do is assign each action to a team member and set a completion date. Record this information in the Dimensions of your Board, and that’s it for this team brainstorming!

Interested in some other efficient brainstorming methods? You can find more available in our template library, such as the standard Brainstorming or World Café, for example!

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