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Learning and Knowledge Exchange

Topsy Turvy

Turning brainstorming upside down

Topsy Turvy (also known as reverse brainstorming) is a method for generating creative, unconventional ideas and solutions, and for mobilizing untapped energies. It can be particularly useful for addressing recurring problems and issues. As the name suggests, the process involves turning a discussion 'upside down' by posing a question that runs counter to your real objectives, and encouraging participants to contribute negative or even anarchic ideas. These ideas are then reversed to formulate positive solutions. Taking an initially negative or 'destructive' approach to the discussion gives participants free rein to explore the flip side of an issue or problem, and thus spurs creativity.


  • Facilitator
  • 10 - 20 people
  • Flipchart board
  • 2 flipcharts with plenty of paper
  • Rectangular cards, in two colours (10 x 20 cm / 4 x 8 inch) (VIPP cards)
  • Marker pens
  • 20 - 30 minutes

Download the full module on Topsy Turvy (PDF), including when and why to use, how to apply, tips for success, variations, and references.



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