Workshop Exercises: Frame, Ideate

The Anti-Problem

Solve the opposite of the real problem

Illustration of The Anti-Problem
Run a The Anti-Problem play

Also called: Reverse Brainstorm

Alternative plays: Figure Storming, Reverse Brainstorming

Follow-up plays: How Might We, SCAMPER

See also: Crazy Eights

Timing: Planning

Origin: Alex Osborn

Run time
45-60 minutes

Group size

Why: Ignite creativity and uncover unexpected solutions by exploring the reverse scenario

When: As you find traditional problem-solving methods unfruitful or when the team is stuck

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Prepare a problem statement before the meeting and present it first thing to the group.
  2. Break large groups into smaller groups of three to four people
  3. Reverse the problem. The more extreme the opposite, the better.
    Lower spam rate β†’ Increase spam rate
    Increase customer satisfaction β†’ Increase customer dissatisfaction
    Increase user sign in β†’ Lower need to sign in
  4. Give participants a Timebox of 15-20 minutes to generate and display ways to solve the anti-problem. Encourage high volume of ideas and fast responses.
  5. Let participants Playback their solutions,
  6. Discuss insights and discoveries.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: Go for small problems

Bring a list of smaller problems and assign smaller Timeboxes to each. Aim for many solutions as fast as possible.

Tip: Best solutions comes after

The best solutions come after the workshop, when participants have time to think and reflect.

Tip: Use the momentum

If the exercise segues into a conversation about the real problem, you can use extra time to continue the conversation while it’s ignited.

Tip: Aha! moments

There might be unexpected Aha! moments as participants discover how they are currently applying a counter-productives solution to the real problem.

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