Last month I wrote about divergent thinking and how to use rules to generate more ideas. In case you missed it, you can read it here.
After generating many ideas, perhaps hundreds, you need to sort through and select the best idea(s) to move forward with. To do this you need to engage in convergent thinking. This is the opposite of divergent thinking where you focus on generating many, diverse ideas. Convergent thinking is narrowing in on the best answer(s) or solution(s).

There are five guidelines to convergent thinking that will help you select the best ideas.

  1. Be Deliberate – Be thoughtful, intentional, and open about the ideas. Don’t necessarily go for the easiest, but be deliberate about the selection.
  2. Check the Objectives – You will have certain criteria or objectives your idea needs to meet in order to be considered a viable idea. If you haven’t developed that criteria do that before you begin converging.
  3. Improve the Ideas – When an idea comes out of your head, usually it is only as formed as what can fit on a Post-it Note. It may not be quite clear if it is a good idea or not because it is only a kernel of an idea. Improve on and build it up just slightly to get a better sense of the idea before deciding it it’s a good fit for your challenge.
  4. Be Affirmative – As you are sorting through your ideas, select the ones that are a good fit rather than discarding the ones that are a poor fit. If you start throwing out ideas you may unintentionally throw out an idea that had potential for greatness.
  5. Consider Novelty – If your intent is to be creative, then consider if the idea is actually creative. One definition of creativity is novelty that is valuable. Is your idea novel? If not, you may need to either select a more novel idea or evaluate if being creative is actually important to you.

I use these guidelines when I am trying to select the best ideas and I teach this process to teams.

It is helpful to also make the rules visual. Most people find it difficult to remember them without seeing them. To make this easier for you and your team, I have created hand-drawn downloadable posters of both the divergent thinking and convergent thinking rules. You can order a printed version or a PDF that you can print on your own.

Order your poster here.

Let me know how the convergent thinking guidelines help you and your team. What changed when your team used them?

I’d love to hear stories of the new ideas you are moving into development! Email me!

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