Both divergent and convergent thinking are essential in the problem solving process.

For those who are unfamiliar with divergent and convergent thinking, these terms mean the following:

Divergent thinking – generating a multitude of ideas by exploring different possible solutions.

Convergent thinking – evaluating ideas to narrow it down to one specific idea.

When problem solving you need to undergo, divergent and convergent thinking, but NEVER attempt to do both at the same time. Here’s why:

  • When it comes to ideation quantity lends itself to quality. When in the divergent stage throw as many ideas out there, no matter how how crazy they are. It’s so much easier to make a wild idea safer than make a boring idea more exciting.
  • Doing convergent thinking when in the divergent stage will result in people’s ideas bing shut down and the creative process being compromised.
  • Once you have a range of ideas put forward, you need to assess them and select one to move forward on. If you stay in the ideation phase your problem won’t be solved.

Here are some talking points and guidelines to help you enter into these phases:

Diverge Talking Points

  • The purpose is to deliberately go beyond the status quo

Divergent Guidelines

  • Defer Judgment
  • Go for quantity
  • Seek wild Ideas
  • Build on ideas (try combining them together)

Converge Talking Points

  • Stress that continuing to seek novelty during convergence is important
  • Review the problem statement as this is a way of checking objectives
  • After a converging action, a new affirmative view of the challenge should surface

Convergent Guidelines

  • Be Deliberate
  • Check Your Objectives
  • Improve Your Ideas
  • Be Affirmative
  • Consider Novelty