Rules for Convergent Thinking

Once you have a bunch of ideas from your divergent thinking, you have to start to make choices using convergent thinking. Convergent thinking ensures change is not reckless.  It seeks to find the best answer to the problem by screening (filtering-keeping some, discarding others), sorting (categorizing and grouping), prioritizing (ranking), supporting (examining positive attributes) and developing (improving/strengthening).  (Puccio, G.J., Murdock, M.C., and Mance, M., 2007, p.61)

Convergent thinking comes naturally to us and applied too heavily, it can kill all your creative ideas.  That’s why it is important to keep in mind these rules when converging:

  • Be Affirmative – It’s too easy to attack an idea and quickly find what is wrong with it. Start by thinking about what is good about it!  What do you like about it?  Maybe there is a way to develop it to get rid of what you don’t like and still keep what you do like but you won’t ever get there unless you challenge yourself to find the good stuff first.
  • Be Deliberate – Try not to jump to conclusions. Don’t make any harsh judgments.  Watch out – your own prejudices and assumptions can skew your choices.  Avoid premature closure or pushing for a decision too quickly.  Give each alternative a fair chance.
  • Check Your Objectives – Some ideas will get you really excited because they are interesting or cool. It is easy to get sidetracked by a “bright shiny idea” that really isn’t helping you move toward the solution for your original vision or challenge.  Maybe it is meant for a different place and time, that’s OK.  You can still use it for something else but just make sure that the choices you make for the challenge at hand are actually the best for the challenge at hand.
  • Improve Ideas – Here’s where you refine the ideas and make them workable. Be patient with the process.  Find the diamonds in the rough and polish them!
  • Consider Novelty – If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. New and creative ideas can be scary at first.  It takes courage to try things that might not work and that others may not understand or approve of.  Challenge yourself to consider the wild and unusual ideas you came up with – they can be revised, toned down or expanded.  Believe that they came to mind for a reason and give them a chance to see the light of day.

 

Cropley, A. (2006). In praise of convergent thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 18(3), 391-404. doi:10.1207/s15326934crj1803_13

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