Principles of creativity – two-stage thinking
Whether creativity techniques and processes modelling creativity are used by individuals or groups, there’s a crucial principle without which all techniques and processes are useless.
This basic principle involves dividing creative thought into two separate stages:
Divergent thinking: A broad search for many new and different alternatives.
Convergent thinking: A focused, positive evaluation of alternatives.
Maybe you’ve already met these types of thinking as brainstorming and idea evaluation in another context.
The crucial thing is that both these thought phases occur separately from each other. First you assemble some options and then in a separate step you assess and weed out options to limit them to just a few alternatives. The reason for this division is that we’re looking for new solutions and need to abandon old notions.
This is easily said and, in theory, quickly understood. In practice, confusion between divergent and convergent thinking is one of the main reasons why individuals and especially groups are unproductive and unable to develop new solutions, instead returning again and again to old ideas and notions.