Creativity is not only about having millions of ideas. Well, of course ideas are important and going outside the box is a great supporting skill. However, we also need to take reflecting, categorising, grouping, and synthesising into account. They help us produce the creative work successfully.
Even when you are creating art, where a conclusion or summary are not needed, you must find a way to express your artistic vision. So you paint, draw, sing, dance, write a poem or novel etc. You choose the method that best expresses yourself and your artistic ideas.
When it comes to creative problem solving and using a creative process to invent new products/services it is even more important. We usually start with finding as many ideas as possible by doing research, brainstorming, benchmarking etc. This phase is called divergent thinking. It requires a good connection with your imagination, open mindedness, courage, and is crucial but insufficient alone. Usually, we are not able to introduce all the ideas that we come up with. We need to choose the best, maybe the most innovative or optimal. That phase requires a different way of thinking – convergent thinking. If convergent thinking is implemented successfully, the very best answer can be picked out from the multiple solutions found due to divergent thinking. If we combine these two modes of thinking we can expect a successful outcome.
I think there are some people who are better at divergent thinking and others who are the same with convergent activities. We need them both, both are equally important. Diversity, as always, will serve every creative team very well.
I can also see it in M-Powered. Marzena is probably more often in the mood for a divergent meeting, while I would prefer to look forward, reflect, choose, and summarise. It changes and depends on the day we have, our mood and physical state etc. We therefore find it useful to develop both skills and learn different methods that can help us in divergent and convergent thinking. The Imaginarium project we are implementing with wonderful partners from different European countries is a great inspiration for us to deepen our work in that subject.
One of the project outcomes will be a creativity Toolbox. We hope it will be useful and will contain a complex set of methods, tools and exercises that will serve youth workers and other educators in creative group work, both in the phases of thinking outside the box + brainstorming, and then choosing the best option.
I have the impression that divergent thinking is prioritised higher than convergent. There are many more resources available to help boost your imagination, well, even here in our blog we spent a lot more space describing the methods that will help you to come up with ideas. Therefore, this time I will share with you some ideas for summarising the creative process and choosing the ideas you would like to implement, test, prototype, and transform into a reality. You can find more in our Imaginarium ToolBox, which will be launched in 2022!
This is a method we often use in our own Design Thinking process after brainstorming. Usually, we have about 30 ideas and we need to choose up to three to prototype. Each group member has 3 dots (votes) which they can distribute in the following way: 3 votes for one idea, 2 for one idea and 1 for another, each vote for a different idea. Ideas with the highest scores are the winners. It is a very democratic, energising and inclusive method.
This is a great method to connect ideas and build complex solutions.
- Using different coloured pens, circle related ideas with the same colour. It is important to resist creating labels or names for the colours for as long as possible.
- Once 3 or 4 different colours are being used, begin to list the ideas by colour on a separate sheet of paper as you continue to review the list of options.
- Continue sorting by colour until every idea belongs to at least one colour. By this time a label or name should become obvious.
Best for when you have many possible options.
- Write one idea/option per separate piece of paper.
- Hold any two cards up and ask group members “between these two ideas, which best addresses our desired outcome?”
- Continue to hold the card with the preferred idea and put away the card not selected to a new pile. Pick up a new card to compare with the first “winner” and ask the same question.
- Continue until all the cards have been compared once.
- Go back to the discard pile and continue until one card remains in your hand through an entire cycle of comparisons.
Do you know any other methods which are helpful in convergent thinking? You are welcome to share them with us on our Imaginarium Facebook profile