Convergent Thinking

At certain points in the creative process, thinking and focus needs to shift. To select the best of our divergent options, determine their potential value. In the convergent thinking process, choice is deliberate and conscious. Criteria are purposefully applied as we screen, select, evaluate, and refine the options, all the while knowing that raw ideas still need development.

Scott Isaksen, PhD and Don Treffinger,PhD proposed convergent thinking guidelines in Creative Problem Solving, the Basic Course (1982).

Use the guidelines that follow when it’s time to make decisions about the ideas generated by divergent thinking.

Guidelines for Convergent Thinking

  • Be Deliberate – Allow decision-making the time and respect it requires. Avoid snap decisions or harsh judgments. Give every option a fair chance.
  • Check Your Objectives – Verify choices against your objectives in each step. This is a reality check – are the choices on track?
  • Improve Your Ideas – Not all ideas are workable solutions. Even promising ideas must be honed and strengthened. Take the time to improve your ideas.
  • Be Affirmative – Even in convergence, it’s important to first consider what’s good about an idea and judge for the purpose of improving, rather than eliminating, ideas.
  • Consider Novelty – Do not dismiss novel or original ideas. Consider ways to tailor, rework, or tame.