“EVERYONE SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!”
The room of bickering fools went silent. All eyes were on the CEO standing at the head of the table. This was a crisis to depths they had never encountered.
“I’m tired of the excuses. The problem remains the same. We have all these bad ideas overloading our inventory and nowhere to offload them. I don’t want to keep hearing why we can’t get them out into the world; I want to do something about it.”
“But sir, they are teaching kids these days that there are no bad ideas. We are doomed with a future of adults who will embrace uncertainty and problem-solve their way to happiness. It’s… systematic.”
The CEO knew the foundational problems as well as anyone. His kids were becoming disgustingly optimistic and always making lemonade from lemons. It strained all of the relationships in the house, and do you have any idea how hard it is to be disgruntled in a house always full of fresh lemonade?
“I understand that. Maybe it will change our future development plans, but it doesn’t fix the current problem. So here’s a bad idea for all of you: Let’s keep trying to do the thing we haven’t been able to do. But let’s try harder. No one ever points out that a square peg can fit in a round hole if the square peg is just pushed harder.”
Conference Room 13 (there were only two of them and both were number 13) at Bad Ideas Inc. had members of every department of the company present. Marketers sat with engineers, accountants, research and development, interns, and the best bad idea operations team of them all, Human Resources.
Employees at Bad Ideas Inc. still glorified the legendary hands on deck meeting in 1972 when the team came up with the brilliant idea to encourage New Yorkers to leave all their trash in the street. Rarely did ideas continue to stink, uninterrupted, for 50 straight years.
But this was a new era in the War on Ideas, where bad ideas were problem solved and some of their greatest hits bad ideas were turned on them. Getting into cars with strangers was now how most people got around, and staying at strangers’ houses was a global travel phenomenon.
Though they were really in a bad spot, it had been an up-and-down decade. The company overcame the lows of having an all-time bad idea like mayonnaise be appropriated into aioli, something beloved and fancified, and rebounded to produce the 2016 Presidential Election, was a masterful lesson in bad idea perseverance.
A meeting of this magnitude was not called when things were up and down, only when they were the most dire. You called up the best of the worst for ideas like “Tide Pod Challenge” and brought in the big guns for ideas like “Bigger Guns.” These guys were the corporate versions of airplane farts.
“Don’t think about coming up with the perfect idea,” guided the CEO. “Just say something that makes absolutely no sense, or throw out an idea that makes you angry for even saying it.”
Lo and behold! An unpaid intern spoke up, offering the first bad idea. Interns were always welcome (and always unpaid) in bad ideas brainstorm meetings since one had delivered a beautiful mess of an idea, years ago: trophies and awards for nothing! It was such a bad idea that society turned it into a culture war.
“Canvas thongs,” the intern offered.
“I like it, but think bigger,” the CEO fired back. “And not in a canvas granny panties kind of way.”
“A streaming service for mimes,” shouted a social media manager, to a smattering of negative reactions.
“Mandatory handcuff Thursdays,” proposed someone from legal. “You know, the government randomly assigns you a handcuff partner each Thursday and you have to stay together until midnight.”
The room grumbled, noncommittedly. The lengthy explanation clearly left something to be desired.
“What about amputating thumbs to show solidarity with our pets?” suggested a logistics specialist. A symphony of deep groans followed.
“That’s terrible! It makes no sense! I love it!” said the CEO. “I give it two thumbs off! That’s the spirit. I want a full write up from each department on feasibility and implementation, on my desk tomorrow. This could be our next asbestos.”