Sunday, September 13, 2015

Divergent Thinking is Great for Innovation and Agile

Divergence is a concept that implies that something is different or develops in a different direction.  Divergent thinking takes this concept and applies it to help you gain new insights and solutions.  This concept can be extremely important in achieving an innovation mindset.  This can benefit your focus on innovation and agility leading to better business results.  

For a company, divergent thinking can be used as a technique that provides an opportunity to create an internal market place of ideas.  These ideas can then be discussed, refined, and evolved into multiple solution options. 
Divergent thinking provides individuals, teams, and companies with the ability to consider lots of possible ways to satisfy a business need. Once divergent thinking occurs, there is a need to pair this with convergent thinking so that one solution is decided upon and experimented with. 

Unfortunately Divergent thinking isn’t encouraged in many of work cultures.  While most companies will say they want new and innovative ideas, there is an angst to move quickly to an answer which typically negates the possibility of sufficient divergent thinking.  Converging too soon reduces options and opportunity. 

If you are looking to infuse a mindset where innovation can thrive, then explicitly introduce divergent thinking into your organization.  Innovation is often introduced in the form of hack days.  This is periodic and event driven.  A more effective approach may be to apply continuous divergent thinking throughout many of the steps of your idea to delivery (aka, end-to-end) process. 

Some may ask, “What is to keep divergent thinking from distracting or slowing down our work?  The simple answer is to apply a time-box technique for divergent thinking.  A brief example is if you have a business opportunity (aka, idea), allow for a period of time to silently identify all possible solutions.  Place the ideas onto large post-ids and post them up.   

The key is to conduct the divergent thinking silently since this ensures no negative or anchored prejudice interferes.  Divergent thinking works best when ideas can flow freely without opposing opinions.  Once the time-boxed divergent period is concluded and all of the ideas are collected, then convergence may commence.

Divergent thinking is a great way to gain new insights and ideas for solutions to business problems and products.  If you are looking for ways to infuse innovative thinking into your organization, consider applying divergent thinking.  Divergent thinking may allow you to come up with the next generation idea or the 10x gain which can lead to better business results. 

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