Why do we need reverse brainstorming?
While we have a variety of ways to run retrospectives or reviews, we sometimes find it difficult and uncreative when solving particular problems despite brainstorming. Especially when people are less engaged or strong opinions are hindering others ‘ new ideas, we need to find a new perspective.
The reverse brainstorming is usually used to resolve the above situation, particularly when:
- We need to break a discussion deadlock.
- We have been stumped by some problems for a long time.
- We want to flop our mindset and generate new ideas.
5 steps to run successful reverse brainstorming
First, define the problem.
Before jumping to open discussion, we need to clarify the situation and define the problem.
Afterwards, we can practice the QBQ (the Question Behind the Question) method to analyze the root cause. We can iterate this process by asking what we can do to make a difference.
For example, if we need to solve the problem that the PO (Product Owner) in the agile team is always changing requests. By applying QBQ method, we will get the following diagram.
Second, reverse the problem.
Take the problem we defined and flip it on its head.
In our earlier example, we can flip the questions to the following:
- What can we do to convince the PO that stability is the biggest mistake?
- What can we do to let the PO believe that there is no need to learn and grow skills?
- What can we do to make the PO think that he has been performing well in change management?
Third, collect ideas.
In this process, all ideas should be accepted. Don’t rush to any judgment or criticism. In the previous example, we might get the following answers:
- Have an exclusive interview with the PO to share his successful experience.
- Never provide any feedback to him.
- Don’t give him any professional training.
- Flatter him and always give him fake compliments.
Fourth, reverse ideas.
Once we’ve exhausted all ideas on how to give the PO false praises, reverse each of them and we will get the actual solutions to the initial problem:
- Don’t give him any professional training. → Give him systematic and professional training.
- Never provide any feedback to him. → Provide necessary and positive feedback when he has made certain achievements.
Fifth, evaluate and identify the best solutions.
Walk through all the ideas that are reversed to good ones to solve the problem, and then prioritize them. Make sure to identify the solutions that are most effective and actionable.
Use VUCAC’s reverse brainstorming template to kick off your session now.
VUCAC provides a professional and ready-to-use template which modularizes the five steps we just discussed above.
Even if you haven’t run a reverse brainstorming session before, you can easily kick off the meeting by following the instructions on the template.