The Power of Bad Product Ideas


Steve Portigal challenges product managers to re-think the idea-generation process by inviting in bad ideas.

In brain-storming sessions, we frequently see two surges in ideas. The first is where the low hanging fruit is identified. The second surge is where more innovative ideas are frequently found. Welcoming bad ideas can be an effective strategy for fast tracking past the low hanging fruit and into innovation.

Steve’s interactive talk encourages product managers to come up with the worst product ideas possible. Not the ideas that are just not that good, but ones that are really, truly terrible. By starting with a bad idea, Steve opens a safe, creative space for ideas sharing. He helps product people to unpack what is good and bad, why and who gets to decide. He encourages us to step away from the binary of good and bad to move around the problem space in a different way. His bad ideas approach also breaks the idea-generation ice – by starting with something terrible, space is opened for all ideas, allowing creativity to flow.

Sharing Terrible Ideas

Steve identifies two types of bad idea sharing, proactive disruption vs tentative unfinished ideas – and encourages us to recognise and support those who share both. The first type of sharing breaks open space for a different approach to your problem or market. The second invites you to listen, collaborate and make a bad thing good.

Bad ideas expose our own beliefs about what the criteria are for good and bad and force us to reassess. Bad ideas can go good, context is everything and ultimately bad can only be judged by the marketplace. If an idea is stupid but it works, its not stupid.

Steve’s talk encourages you to be open to surprises and to capture new energy in your team by being playful with the ideas generation process and laughing as you go.


Chris Massey has been marketing B2B software products to developers for 8 years, building communities, content and publishing platforms along the way. He's an editor for Mind the Product, as well as a fan of JTBD, JFDI, and JEDIs.