But I can tell you, it’s a long, hard struggle to get these smart professionals to stick with Divergent Thinking for more than a few rounds. The application of divergent thinking rules is foreign to most people, as is the use of divergent thinking to solve problems. So the power of the old way of thinking always draws them back.
I have to use every trainer trick I know—coaching, reminding, joking, nagging,gamifying, recruiting helpers—just to keep them thinking divergently during a one or two day workshop.
Divergent Thinking’s Fight to Survive
I have empathy for our participants. I too was a 97% Convergent Thinker back in my corporate leadership days. I had targets to achieve, a team to lead, lots of stuff to get done. I would only get creative when my usual approach wasn’t bringing me the results I wanted. But even then, my process was to think of an idea and then immediately evaluate it. This is not Divergent Thinking, which requires us to do the work to generate lots of ideas before evaluating each one and selecting our favorites.
Who has time to engage in a long daydreaming session? Who has time to sit and fantasize about what might be possible? We might diverge for a few minutes, but then we’ve got to get back to e-mail and meetings.
Today’s complex business environment takes one’s full attention just to handle the issues and targets in front of us. True creativity is something we do “when we have time.”
But of course, we never have time.