BRAINSTORMING TIP #19: First Diverge, Then Converge
If you are gearing up for a brainstorm session, allow me to offer you one piece of advice: first diverge, then converge.
Beyond the muffins, coffee, and people arriving fashionably late, brainstorm sessions are composed of the two aforementioned "erges."
Divergence is the act of "getting out there" or what Webster refers to as "an infinite sequence that does not have a limit." Go, Noah, go!
Divergence is a deviation from the norm -- kind of like your brother-in-law.
Without divergence, brainstorm sessions are flat, boring, one-dimensional, and a roaring waste of time.
But if the only thing you do is "get out there," never coming back to home base, all you will have done is tease participants by temporarily stimulating their imagination.
That's why you need divergence's accountant-like cousin convergence -- the act of "coming together toward one point."
Divergence and convergence -- like day and night, hot and cold, peanut butter and jelly, are both necessary if you want your brainstorm sessions to really hum.
How to spark divergence?
Well, for starters, invite inspired people, define a compelling challenge, establish a sense of urgency, express humor, give participants permission to take risks, and make sure the facilitator knows what they're doing.
Convergence can be achieved in many ways, as well, including verbally summarizing session results, restating the most popular ideas, voting, identifying champions, action planning, and clarifying what will happen to new ideas, post-session.
For more on why most brainstorming sessions don't work (and what you can do about it), click here... or here if you don't want to click any of the aforementioned hyperlinked words, click here.
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at September 1, 2012 11:36 PM
Great piece - a lot of time is wasted on ineffective brainstorms, if people just followed this simple diverge - converge rule they would get far better results.
Lucy: Glad you liked the "First Diverge, Then Converge" post. Here's a link to some other postings on brainstorming from this blog: http://tinyurl.com/399axrm
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