Think about the way you think. Yes, it's a strange question, but are you capable of changing the way you think?
Most people are set in their ways, which can be dangerous working in a creative environment.
Original ideas are essential to repeatedly impressing clients and customers. New ideas often stem from different ways of thinking.
Divergent thinking and inspired brainstorming sessions can be extremely beneficial in the workplace, especially when it comes to developing innovative solutions.
Read more to learn about divergent thinking.
What is Divergent Thinking?
Convergent thinking requires little creativity. It assumes there is one correct answer to a problem and one way to find it.
Divergent thinking is the opposite. It challenges you to think outside the box. Instead of settling for the first solution that comes to mind, think of 100 solutions and choose one, or a combination of many, that best solves the problem.
When it comes to divergent thinking, quantity is valued over quality.
This might seem counterproductive- why spend time coming up with many ideas that cannot be implemented?
Searching for the single best answer often instills fear of incompetence in employees. Encouraging them to share all of their ideas without fear of rejection will increase involvement. Even if some ideas are not useful, they might inspire new ideas out of others that are.
To increase divergent thinking, avoid self-editing while brainstorming. Self-editing is the subconscious process that prevents people from sharing ideas because they are embarrassed, ashamed or believe their contributions are not good enough.
Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO, an award winning global design firm, has studied the effects of self-editing. He found that self-editing is essentially nonexistent in two groups of people: children and close friends. Children have not yet developed a sense of shame or embarrassment, which allows them to freely share their thoughts and ideas. Adults are often comfortable enough around close friends to share ideas without fear of judgment and with the expectation of honest feedback.
So how can this idea transfer to the workplace and help employees stop self-editing?
First, utilize a sense of childlike wonder. Encourage employees to come up with as many out-of-the-box ideas. Emphasize originality and variety, rather than reality and what has worked in the past.
Next, work toward creating a level of comfort in the workplace comparable to the level of comfort among close friends. This will allow your employees to share their ideas openly without fear of judgment or disapproval. They will value and respect each other’s opinions not only as coworkers, but also as friends.
Divergent thinking is a hard process to adapt. It goes against all workplace norms of finding the right answer and sticking to it. It challenges people and forces them to consciously change the way they think. But the results of divergent thinking will definitely provide more creative solutions that lead to long-term success.