Wildest Idea Technique

The approach here is to move people out of their normal problem-solving modes, which are usually quite conservative, by asking them to try to come up with a ‘wild’ idea. An example was the discovery of radar, which was developed from the bizarre suggestion of a radio ‘death-ray’ for shooting down planes. Instead of rejecting the idea, someone used it as a stepping stone to formalize the concept of radar.

The approach is most useful when an impasse has been reached in problem solving or opportunity identification. Participants need to be jogged out of their mind-set by considering things so remote or unusual that they change their normal frame of reference or paradigm paralysis. It takes a while to get a group into the swing of generating wild ideas. Most of the ideas are impractical, but eventually a useful one emerges. It is usually one that couldn’t be produced by one of the more conservative techniques.

Procedure for Use:

1. The facilitator selects the first wild idea as a starting point and asks the group to build on the idea.

2. The group continues to explore variations or extrapolations of the wild idea.

3. Then the facilitator asks the group to try to find practical uses of the wild ideas.

4. If the results do not meet the problem resolution requirements, the process is repeated on another idea. If no practical ideas emerge, another wild idea is used and the process continues until an acceptable idea is found. This is an important technique because it produces a surge of ideas that are often highly cost-effective.