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What Is Convergent Thinking? Convergent Thinking In A Nutshell
Convergent thinking occurs when the solution to a problem can be found by applying established rules and logical reasoning. The term convergent thinking was first described by American psychologist Joy Paul Guilford in 1950. The process of convergent thinking involves finding the single best solution to a problem or question amongst many possibilities.
Multiple-choice tests, logic puzzles, text comprehension questions, or simply working out how to use the television remote are all examples of situations where convergent thinking is used. In each situation, the subject is usually required to resolve, explain, identify, or define.
Convergent thinking differs from divergent thinking, a more creative process where the individual searches for multiple viable solutions to a single problem. Though they appear to be separate processes, convergent thinking and divergent thinking occupy opposite ends of the same spectrum. This means some problems may favor either approach or a mixture of both.
In a Walden University MBA course on innovation, students learn about convergent thinking and how it can be used to foster creativity during the brainstorming process.
While convergent thinking is not typically associated with creativity, this strategy can be used in business contexts when a single solution is favored. With that said, it is useful to keep these four principles in mind:
Use affirmative judgment – the cornerstone of convergent thinking is the ability to evaluate potential solutions by examining their positive aspects and then building on each to make them stronger. The tendency, when confronted with something new, is to focus on the bad aspects first. However, the most productive way to brainstorm is to change perceptions and consider the positive aspects of a solution before its limitations.
Keep novelty alive – the careful and selective nature of creative thinking can impede creativity. Despite intentions to the contrary, decision-makers routinely default to staying within their comfort zones and making choices that are far from innovative. Again, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of an idea before considering how to minimize risk. Teams should resist the temptation to discard unique, unusual, or high-risk ideas without exploring them further.
Be persistent – the process of convergent thinking requires time and effort. The team will be required to select the most viable option from a long list of ideas and then refine it, which can be labor-intensive. Persistence is key in ensuring the selection process is rigorous and fair.
Check your objectives – the goals and objectives of the team and organization should always guide the selection process touched on in point three. Periodically running through the objectives helps the team avoid losing focus.
Convergent thinking occurs when the solution to a problem can be found by applying established rules and logical reasoning. The process involves finding the single best solution to a problem or question amongst many possibilities.
Convergent thinking differs from divergent thinking, which encourages the practitioner to develop multiple ideas or solutions to a single problem. Both strategies occupy opposite ends of a spectrum, with certain situations favoring a predominant approach or a mixture of the two.
Convergent thinking and the creative process of brainstorming may not appear a good fit at first glance. However, convergent thinking can yield creative ideas if the team uses affirmative judgment and maintains a sense of novelty. For best results, the team should also be rigorous, persistent, and ensure their solutions align with organizational goals and objectives.
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