Ideation: Opposite thinking

Opposite Thinking, is one of my favourite ideation methods, mainly because it creates a structured approach for radical idea generation.

We accept many things as the status quo, which can prevent us from thinking differently. This method allows us to create alternative scenarios and trigger innovative ideas.

Opposite Thinking works in three parts. In part one, we create assumptions to our How Might We (HMW) statement.

For example, our HMW statement could be ‘HMW get millennials to start saving for pensions?’. We would then assume millennials want to save for the future. Maybe they don’t. We might also assume all millennials want to save. But we can’t be sure.

The second part is the opposite. We make blanket statements about the problem. Such as millennials would rather spend money and live their lives. We discuss these together as a group to kick-start several assumptions.

Part three is the ideation piece, where we develop solutions to the assumption – ‘HMW get millennials to spend more money?’ a solution would be to provide loyalty points or based on their spending amount. We do this individually and then converge after a few minutes.

We keep going and evaluate these ideas to see if we can see a potential solution.


Step 1
Individually list two assumptions you have about the problem you are trying to solve or about the solutions you have in mind (10 min).

Step 2
Share your assumptions and stick them on the wall in one column(10 min).

Step 3
Individually pick an assumption, define one or two opposite statements and stick them on the wall in a second column (5min).

Step 4
Individually think about these opposite statements, how it affects your problem and add potential solutions in a third column (5min).

Step 5
Review all proposed solutions as a team and build on each other ideas (20 min).

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