boost your problem solving with convergent thinking and divergent thinking

Boost Your Problem Solving with Convergent Thinking and Divergent Thinking

Written by
Waleed Mazen

In today’s world a lot of people do not take the time to complain about problems and service issues to companies, they switch companies to find the value they are seeking somewhere else.

This switching puts a huge pressure on companies to change to the better to fulfil customer demands and achieve customer satisfaction. Talking about change and planning change is not change. Change means doing things differently.  This means when identifying a problem or finding a better way to do something an action needs to be taken that results in carrying the work differently.

There are two ways of thinking convergent thinking and divergent thinking that can help achieve the required change. Convergent thinking helps us narrow down and choose where to start. This thinking uses logic and also called critical or vertical thinking. Divergent thinking is the method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. This thinking uses imagination and also called creative or horizontal thinking.

So how can we use these two methods of thinking to optimise the way we solve problems and achieve customer satisfaction.

It is important to be able to catch problems inside the organisation before they reach the customer. That can be done through people education and developing their problem solving skills.

Convergent thinking is utilised to define what the problem is and reach its root cause. This is important as it is the first step to get everyone in the organisation focused to find countermeasures to the same agreed problem. Once the problem is defined and agreed then everyone can start working on identifying the root cause.

Divergent thinking requires people to find all the possible solutions to solve the problem. My associate Karyn Ross has developed a tool for divergent thinking. It enables you to maximise the number of ideas to reach the desired objective through different solutions.


Divergent Thinking Tool (How Can we?):

Sheet Format

  1. On the top of the page state the target that you want to achieve.
  2. Split the page into 2 halves (draw a vertical line in the middle)
  3. On the left write: Why can’t we?
  4. On the right write: How could we?

Carrying out the activity:

  1. Write down the target that you want to achieve.
  2. Under ‘Why can’t we?’ write all the reasons that you are not able to achieve the target.
  3. Ask team members, project members, other functions, friends to tell you their reasons why that target can’t be achieved, and write them all Under ‘Why can’t we?’ (ask anyone that can give you input)
  4. Pick one statement from ‘Why can’t we?’ and put a circle around it.
  5. List all the possible solutions that you can come up with to overcome the statement selected in step 4.
  6. Ask team members, project members, other functions and friends to give you possible solutions that can overcome the statement selected in step 4.
  7. Try out all the solutions listed to find out what works and what doesn’t.
  8. Repeat step 4 – 7 with all the statements in ‘Why can’t we?’

This tool capitalises on the natural human reaction of finding faults and reasons why something will not work or why it can’t be done. Following this divergent thinking methodology will create huge opportunities and insights to enhance and improve your product and service to achieve customer satisfaction. You will be able to venture into unknown areas and explore unlimited ways to improve.

divergent thinking tool sheet format

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