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Creative Thinking Exercises: 003 Good Bad Interesting

Good Bad Interesting: Get creative thinking with the G.B.I. exercise

Creative thinking exercise 003: Good Bad Interesting

Reframing ideas to see different aspects

The Good Bad Interesting exercise gets you looking at ideas from multiple perspectives. It encourages mental flexibility -- a very important skill if you want to be creative. This exercise originates from Dr Edward de Bono. He invented the concept of 'lateral thinking' to describe the process of coming up with solutions to problems through playing with data or employing unorthodox methods to arrive at your end ideas. Compare that to traditional 'vertical thinking' which employs a logical step-by-step approach to seeking solutions.

So, what is the Good Bad Interesting creative thinking exercise? Simply take your central theme, idea or challenge, and think about what's good about it, what's bad about it, and what's interesting about it. Generate as many examples of each as you can think of, but try to be fairly equal about it. Too much of one or another demonstrates bias in your thinking. This is not about finding the 'right' answer. It's about looking at all the possible interpretations of an idea.

Let's get right into some examples so you can see how to apply it to your own challenges and problems. See what other GBI's you can come up with for each of these:

1) Theme: DISEASE

Good: Medical and pharmaceutical companies make big profits.

Bad: Humans suffer pain, misery or early death.

Interesting: Word breaks down to DIS-EASE suggesting strong mental component to illness.



Good: Keeps manual labour force numbers adequately high.

Bad: People are ill-equipped to make sound decisions beyond narrow areas.

Interesting: Uneducated people are easier to control for power and profit.


3) Theme: MURDER

Good: Novelists and screenwriters create dramatic stories and crime thrillers.

Bad: Families suffer fear, pain and loss.

Interesting: Murderers could be said to be "good for the environment" because they reduce population numbers!



Good: Provides a shared global problem and purpose to unite the world's population.

Bad: Rapid destruction of natural habitats, freak weather conditions, flood and famine.

Interesting: Political power of the environment and businesses need to be 'seen' to be green.


Conclusion: Most people react to a new idea by either liking or disliking it. They then use their intelligence to defend their decision because of their need to be right. The Good Bad Interesting exercise forces creative thinking to generate multiple perspectives on an idea. It shows that ideas can be seen as good, as bad or as interesting, depending on the particular frame of mind you are coming from. Any idea can be looked at in a different way by reframing it. The idea changes in the mind of a person depending on how they are looking at it. This is important to remember in all negotiations between people with opposing viewpoints. The GBI creative thinking exercise enables you to understand other people much better. It will make you a more flexible thinker.