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blog.gkaindl.com » Paradox Brainstorming

blog.gkaindl.com

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Paradox Brainstorming


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Yesterday, I attended a (fortunately free) info-event for aspiring entrepreneurs. While I managed to mostly get the information on taxes and the process of founding a corporation I was looking for, the presentations were exceptionally bad. Apart from the usual pseudo-inspirational slogans and naive truisms, there was, however, one single tip that I’ve found to be quite useful.

In the flurry of “Believe in yourself!”s and “Don’t listen to the nay-sayers!”s, one presenter revealed a technique that she referred to as “Paradox Brainstorming”. While the title may be a bit misleading, it’s actually a pretty cool concept.

During a brainstorming session, rather than trying to come up with things your product should be, try to come up with stuff it should absolutely not be!: Come up with ways to annoy users, to make them suffer badly. Torture them! Try to shoot over the top intentionally. For example, if you are designing a web app, jot down ideas like “We’ll annoy our customers by showing them our license agreement on every page”, “There should be at least 20 lists on each screen!”, “Let’s lock the users into our system as tightly as possible!” or “Let’s make them verify everything they want to do via email!”. Not only is this a lot easier than coming up with things you should do, but it’s also much more fun. Consequently, you and your group will be able to come up with more creative (albeit evil) ideas, since a relaxed environment makes your ideas bloom.

Once you have a list of insanely bad design ideas in front of you, go through them one by one and invert them. You will see that it’s not always easy to do the inversion, but by having the exaggeration of the bad way to do it in mind, you are much more likely to come up with a better, maybe even great solution for a problem you might not have even known was there. After all, it’s generally quite hard to think about what you want, but it’s easy to think about what you don’t want (When I grow up, I want to be… uh…, but well, I definitely don’t want to be a shark tamer!).

Try if for yourself! You’ll see that it will work great to spark new design ideas or at least to make you aware of issues that require further consideration. Learn how to wield the dark side of your creativity!

About

Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

I like to write about everything that matters to considerate technology enthusiasts, but humbly retain the right to go off-topic from time to time.

My posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Contact

You can reach me by email if you have something to say that's not related to a blog post or that you don't want to have publicly available as a comment to a post.

However, you'll have to prove that you are human! Even though I personally like robots very much, I'm less of fan of SPAM. It's just a simple riddle to solve, but a SPAM bot won't cut it!

To get my email address, take the word before the .com in my domain name first (Hint: The word you are looking for starts with a "g" and ends with an "l"). Next, simply attach @mac.com to this word.

Boom, there's my email address. Simple, isn't it?

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