How Great Ideas Come From Terrible Ones–The McDonald’s Theory

BIg Mac How Great Ideas Come From Terrible Ones  The McDonalds TheoryThe McDonald’s Big Mac is one of the most recognizable foods in the world, but it hardly passes as fine dining. Jon Bell has a great blog post on Medium about how he uses the idea of lunch at McDonald’s to inspire creativity in his team.

 I use a trick with co-workers when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s.

An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!

It’s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative. I call it the McDonald’s Theory: people are inspired to come up with good ideas to ward off bad ones.

The first step is always the hardest Bell writes. As the ball gets rolling, it becomes easier and easier to come up with good ideas. If a little decoy is what it takes to inspire creativity in a group, it definitely seems like an acceptable tactic to me.

When it comes to marketing your business, don’t be paralyzed by the enornmity of what lies before you. Just start getting your ideas down so that you can get to the best ones sooner.

The next time you have an idea rolling around in your head, find the courage to quiet your inner critic just long enough to get a piece of paper and a pen, then just start sketching it. “But I don’t have a long time for this!” you might think. Or “the idea is probably stupid”, or “Maybe I’ll go online and click around for-”

No. Shut up. Stop sabotaging yourself.

Remember that shipping product is much harder than it seems. Most people would rather eat at McDonald’s than risk starting a restaurant. Give yourself a little credit for doing what most people can’t or won’t. But don’t stop there–get your ideas out there. The hardest executing an idea is starting in the first place, and if it takes sacrificing a few bad ideas to get to the good ones, it’s totally worth it.


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