The sensitivity of men to small matters, and their indifference to great ones, indicates a strange inversion.

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)
French mathematician, physicist and inventor

As the name suggests, this brainstorming method turns things upside down — Inverse Brainstorming is also known as the ‘Headstand’ or even ‘Destructive Brainstorming’.

Process of Inverse Brainstorming

You start by saying the opposite of what you want, usually something negative. You then reverse the results and develop the positive outcomes further. You can also start something positive and come up with negative opposites. However, the terms can also be neutral: high vs. low, tightness vs. flexibility etc.

This can also be used in strategy formulation as a good strategy states what not to do as well as when to exit.

For example, you would like to find out what could motivate parliamentarians to vote for a certain bill. So first you would ask what would discourage them to do so. With the results of this round of questioning, you go into a second round and find the reverse of the initial outcomes. For example, if the first round answers were fear, lack of incentives and ignorance in the second round you might deduce protection, incentives, awareness etc.


The overall process should be transparent and fair. Thus, you need a facilitator to overlook the process and let everyone contribute. He or she should instigate or trigger the more silent participants.

You might designate a recording clerk who writes the terms on a board or a flipchart. This makes the process transparent and might trigger new associations by reading. At the same time you have a recording of your ideas, which can also be used in the photo protocol. Accordingly, the use of a board is highly recommended

Perhaps, you want to have a look on other brainstorming techniques, too:

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