When it comes to solving problems in a company, you might think that the process involves simply sitting down and talking about different solutions. However, you can actually approach an issue from more than one angle. If you’ve never heard of convergent and divergent thinking before, the time has then arrived to expand your mind and learn about ways to better your company.
What Convergent and Divergent Thinking Are and How to Tackle Them
When you are looking for one answer that solves a problem, you are engaging in a practice of convergent thinking. Convergent and divergent thinking differ in the fact that the former is a mode of functioning that seeks one answer.
If you are using a convergent approach to solve a problem at work, you are saying that you want to find one correct solution to the problem. A group of people may get together to uncover or develop the perfect answer to the predicament.
Engaging in divergent thinking means that you’re accepting more than one possible solution for the problem. As you get together with your team, you may brainstorm a list of ideas.
A major difference between convergent and divergent thinking is that the latter could embrace all of the solutions as ones that can make a difference and have a real impact. Divergent thinking does not believe in the existence of only one solution to a problem.
Deciding What to Choose
You may feel as though you commonly use one of these approaches more so than the others. In fact, you may feel as though you are a strict adherent to one method when it comes to convergent and divergent thinking.
Instead, consider the fact that the approach you should choose can very well vary depending on the situation. Now that you know about the existence of this pair of opposites, you can make the best of one of them when the situation demands it.
Convergent: Focused Plan
Having a number of different solutions can open the door to significant confusion. Instead of focusing on one step at a time, you may be looking at the first step as many different possible solutions. Trying to navigate all of the different problems that could arise can become overwhelming.
When you choose a convergent mode of tackling problems, you can take each piece as it comes. You can dedicate all of your time and attention to whatever stage of the process that you’re in.
Divergent: Backup Plans
A major benefit of taking a divergent approach is that you can have a backup plan ready to go in the event that one possibility doesn’t work out. In fact, if you are truly pursuing a divergent approach, you would likely be exploring multiple options at the same time. Afterward, you would not have to worry much about one failure for you have other plans in place too.
When you’re looking at convergent and divergent modes of tackling situations in the workplace, you may recognize that the convergent model leaves more control in your hands. While micromanaging as one of the many management styles can cause a host of problems, it is also helpful to have a leader.
By choosing a convergent model, you can act as a guide. Even if you aren’t the one leading the plan, you can task the person who developed the idea with doing so. Having a central point of contact is generally helpful to other employees working on the project.
If you want your employees to act as leaders themselves, consider a divergent model that encourages them to pursue their ideas. Instead of having only one leader of the solution, multiple people can act as the vanguards of their projects.
By allocating power and responsibility in this way, you are encouraging your employees to build more confidence in their skills. When your employees see that you trust them, you may find yourself surprised at the brilliant ideas that they come up with.
Convergent: Objective Answer
People are often comfortable with the idea of objectivity. This is why many of them seek rules and guidelines. When you provide employees with a solid answer to a problem, you may be providing them with a source of comfort and confidence.
Another difference between convergent and divergent thinking is that the former offers an objective truth. Knowing that an answer exists can allow workers to channel all of their focus in that direction.
On the other hand, taking away the possibility of an objective truth can help your team members to explore their creativity. When you suggest that only a singular solution exists, you are in some ways merely asking them to guess what you’re thinking.
By contrast, divergent thinking allows them to explore solutions that implement a creative approach. You may discover that your employee harbor creative skills that you didn’t even know that they had.
Generating some sense of competition in the work environment can prove useful. This way, employees are always striving toward new goals for themselves.
A convergent model means that each worker will likely be trying to come up with the best idea possible. That’s because the concept of an ideal solution exists. Having a healthy competitive atmosphere at your job can encourage employees to always try their hardest.
Instead of competing with one another to have the top spot, employees who use a divergent approach to solving problems can find that they build a greater sense of community. Individuals may gather together to work with one another on their ideas.
For example, they may recognize that each solution in a divergent approach can have many different branches in and of itself. Even people who did not come up with the original solution can bring their own creative spin when it comes to ways to implement the plan.
Knowing how to approach problems in a place of business is often difficult. Understanding that you can employ different approaches opens the door to the possibility to foster an environment suitable for your job. The convergent and divergent thinking are opposed concepts. However, now that you know the specifics of each of them, you can employ them when the situation demands them.