The Bad Version
In our lives we are often presented with problems that require a solution or set of solutions. Sometimes the solution is clear and at other times, it is not. When it is not, what are we to do?
Scott Adams, the Dilbert comic strip creator, once wrote in an article for the Wall Street Journal (Weekend Edition 1/29-30/2011) an idea that has stuck with me in part due to its absurdness but also because it works. He said:
“I spent some time working in the television industry, and I learned a technique that writers use. It’s called ‘the bad version.’ When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can’t yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version.
For example, if your character is stuck on an island, the bad version of his escape might involve monkeys crafting a helicopter out of palm fronds and coconuts. That story idea is obviously bad, but it might stimulate you to think in terms of other engineering solutions, or other monkey-related solutions. The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won’t. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.”
Getting past the ideas we know won’t work will allow us to think of solutions that will.
I have often wondered what ideas or solutions would be generated for a big problem we haven’t seemed to solve if presented to a kindergarten class. Their brains haven’t yet learned all that we consider impossible. While some of their ideas would obviously be impossible, some of them may have only been deemed impossible and could spur new thoughts and solutions.
As we examine the bad version solution to solving our problems, we are able to move forward and focus on what will work.
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This blog allows you to experience the raw, gut wrenching drama of human conflict through accounting in each of its three stages: preparing to do battle, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.