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June 7, 2023

McDonald's Theory

McDonald's hamburger and drinks on a tray

McDonald's hamburger and drinks on a tray
Art by Luis Rosero: Hamburger and Drinks on a Tray.

I'm currently finishing a design systems course by Dan Mall on Dribbble and I'm completely grateful to the entire team for putting together such a great course. I've learned a lot so far, but one of the things that stuck with me the most was learning about the McDonald's Theory.

It was developed by Jon Bell (a designer at Twitter) and it's a great way to improve your decision-making by starting from a bad idea. Here's how it works:

Need to kick-off a brainstorming session? Start by suggesting a bad idea. It's easier to improve a bad idea than to come up with a good idea from scratch.

It sounded goofy to me at first, but it's actually a great way to get the ball rolling and get rid of that initial fear to share your ideas (a.k.a break the ice).

If it hasn't clicked to you yet, think about it as having an AI generate a draft for you. It's definitely not going to be The Thing™, but it's going to be a great starting point to improve upon. It's the same thing with the McDonald's Theory.

So next time you're in a meeting and you're struggling to come up with ideas, try starting with a bad idea (or better: have AI generate that "bad idea" for you!).

I've been using this "technique" for a while now and it's been working great for me. I hope it works for you too!