A company wants to launch a new product, an organization is planning a marketing campaign, and a project team has to find the best possible solution in an extremely difficult situation. In each of these cases, it is necessary to organize a meeting of the people involved to discuss and confront different thoughts, experiences, and views. And then the question arises – which of the possible techniques will work better, traditional or reverse brainstorming? Below, we will discuss what these methods are, the differences between them, and which one will produce the desired results. Read on to find out more.

Reverse brainstorming – table of contents:

What is reverse brainstorming?

Reverse brainstorming, also known as negative brainstorming, is a creative thinking technique used for identifying problems, challenges, and risks associated with a particular idea, project, or situation. It provides a deeper level of understanding of a problem, which allows for improving the quality of the solution created or implemented, reducing the risk of failure. This technique is particularly useful in the following contexts:

  • Identifying weak points – the risks and difficulties associated with your planned project or idea, so you can take steps to minimize or eliminate them,
  • Avoiding mistakes and unwanted surprises – by considering potential problems at the planning stage, surprises and mistakes can be avoided later in the project implementation process,
  • Refining solutions – once potential difficulties have been identified, participants can work on solutions or strategies to avoid or effectively counteract these problems.

The main idea of reverse brainstorming is that instead of thinking about how to improve the concept, participants try to think about how its implementation might be hindered. It is particularly useful when you are working on developing a new product or service, or when you need to solve a problem that is difficult to define. During the discussion using this technique, sample questions may include:

  • What are the potential difficulties associated with this solution?
  • What are the potential drawbacks or limitations of this solution?
  • What are the potential costs of implementing this solution?
  • What are the potential benefits of this solution?

Reverse vs traditional brainstorming

Traditional and reverse brainstorming are complete opposites and the main differences between the two can be seen in the purpose of use and approach. The purpose of the latter is to identify problems, difficulties, threats, or potential flaws related to an idea, project, or situation, while the traditional technique aims to generate as many creative ideas and solutions as possible. In reverse brainstorming, participants try to think negatively, while in traditional brainstorming, they focus on generating ideas and creative thinking.


Without a doubt, reverse brainstorming is a valuable technique – it helps avoid pitfalls and better prepares you to operate in a changing and competitive business environment. It is worth using in the analysis phase when it is necessary to identify existing problems and potential risks. However, the traditional technique also has undeniable advantages, especially when it leads to the development of new solutions and the achievement of set business goals. For this reason, it is often used in the creation and planning stages when fresh ideas and an innovative approach are needed.

It is extremely difficult to answer which of these techniques works better. Both approaches have their unique advantages and are extremely useful – they can be used as effective tools in the process of creative thinking and problem-solving. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on the specific situation and goals of the project. In many cases, it is even worth considering using both techniques at different stages of the project to unleash the full creative potential while focusing on analyzing and refining solutions.

Reverse brainstorming

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Traditional vs. reverse brainstorming. Which is better? caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.