Ravi and Rayan both live 10 kilometers away from their office. They ordinarily drive to work. They both think their transport costs are too much and are looking for ways to cut the cost.
Ravi explores all the possible options to reduce his fuel consumption. He is a divergent thinker. Rayan zeroes in on two of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the market—he thinks one of them can replace his current vehicle. He is a convergent thinker.
What is convergent and divergent thinking?
Divergent thinking and convergent thinking are two complementary thinking strategies of problem-solving and idea generation. Both methods help us address challenges and achieve goals, but in different ways. These two ways of thinking were described by psychologist J.P. Guilford in 1956.
A divergent thinker is the one who looks at the problem from varying perspectives and explores multiple solutions. A convergent thinker focuses his abilities on finding one correct answer.
Have you noticed the free flow of ideas during a brainstorming session when you are given the freedom to express yourself? Convergent and divergent thinking happens in different environments.
Divergent thinking thrives in open and spontaneous environments. Environments that reward accuracy and evidence-driven approaches stimulate convergent thinking.
How does convergent and divergent thinking take place?
A divergent thinker uses several elements to explore possible solutions. He or she may use his imagination to dream of innovative ideas. He will think about various layers that constitute a problem. A divergent thinker is flexible and adaptable.
On the other hand, a convergent thinker is comfortable collecting data and analyzing it closely. He will zero in on a limited number of choices and choose one correct answer. Convergent thinking brings closure to a problem.
Comparison between convergent and divergent thinking
Though divergent thinking and convergent thinking are different approaches, they are both critical to problem-solving. Creativity is a balanced blend of convergent and divergent thinking.
When we look at convergent and divergent thinking examples, we will notice that most challenges can be overcome by blending the two approaches.
Harappa’s Unleashing Creativity course has a section on convergent and divergent thinking. It will help you generate multiple ideas and select the most viable ones. The course will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to use innovative thinking to find solutions.
Divergent thinking examples
It is not surprising that Mr. Narayan is one of the most popular professors in the design school because his class is full of excellent divergent thinking examples. He introduces various open-ended questions that encourage students to think. For instance, in one of his first classes, he asks students: What are the ways to inculcate design thinking in our lives?’ He lets students explore the creative talents, whether it be poetry, music, painting or sculpture.
One of the highlights of divergent thinking is taking regular feedback. Mr. Narayan seeks inputs from students and experiments with his teaching methods. Each one of his students is trained to be a result-oriented divergent thinker.
What does a convergent thinker do?
Professor Raja is a convergent thinker. He is given the task of choosing a class representative from between two top-performing students. He evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of both the students. He chooses the representative based on this assessment.
An organizational approach to convergent and divergent thinking
A divergent thinker adds great value to an organization by articulating fresh ideas and coming up with many angles from which to approach problems. She displays intellectual curiosity and utilizes her artistic interests to find a solution.
A convergent thinker is no less important. Her analytical power is crucial in zeroing in on the right solution within the given timeframe. She is better at making decisions in such a manner that the chapter is closed and it is easy to move on to other tasks.
Many convergent and divergent thinking examples indicate that the organization that gives equal importance to both is likely to be more successful. Organizations that encourage innovation consciously give weightage to both these thinking processes.
‘Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!’ wrote the children’s author and cartoonist Dr. Seuss. Are you ready to try?
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