You are doing yourself and your fellow creative professionals a disservice if you embrace the mantra of “There are no bad ideas in a brainstorm.” Almost every idea in a brainstorm is bad. That’s why only a few – at best – survive.

Don’t go negative on me though, bro! All of these bad ideas are not a bad thing. What really is bad is ignoring the opportunity that comes along with a bad idea. Understanding why a bad idea is a bad idea helps to clarify why a good idea is a good idea.

Why might an idea be bad?

  • Is it too expensive for the client’s budget?
  • Does it highlight the wrong message?
  • Will it take too long to execute?
  • Does it defy one or more laws of nature?
  • Is it derivative?
  • Is it a silly idea for a client that wants to be serious (or vice versa)?
  • Does it rely on social media for a client that hates social media?
  • Did the wrong person in the room come up with it? (Just kidding … kind of … not really.)
  • Was it not hugged enough as a baby idea?

You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from discussing why an idea is bad if you can have thick enough skin for that conversation.

I’ve had a lot of bad ideas. A lot. Especially early in my career. Not because I was some young dumb idiot who was stupid. I was just new to the clients and projects and the profession. But, every bad idea I threw into the brainstorm buzz saw helped me understand each of those things a little better, and now I don’t rely on volume of ideas in order to find a likely winner.

So, next time you are preparing for a brainstorm, turn your filter off and let the ideas fly. You might not have a good idea, but you’ll learn something.