When it comes to solving problems, there are three ways by which you can solve a problem. The first one is lateral, the second one Divergent, and the last we have is Convergent. These are also called types of thinking. The human brain’s core works with our ability to think critically, and includes imagination, along with creativity. As a result, performing different tasks using our ability and decision-making makes us stand tall in the evolution race. Simply put, critical thinking implies taking care of cognitive biases, overcoming them in the best way possible.
Lateral means from the other side, which means a person can look for the answer differently, more like think outside the box. Most of the time, people are more likely to use logical thinking to solve a problem, as it’s a more straightforward way. These terms first came to existence after being coined by a famous psychologist Edward De Bono, and these skills are often required in creative careers, such as marketing and advertising. If you are currently working as a graphic designer or a musician, you might have already developed some lateral thinking.
Let’s dive deep into the explanation of lateral thinking by taking in an example. Try to name one thing, which is an ancient invention that most people around the world still use today—making it possible for people to see through walls.
The answer is quite simple. It’s the “Glass Windows,” but that’s where you get to use your lateral thinking. People can easily get confused by the use of the term ancient inventions, which makes it possible to see through walls.
Well, lateral thinking comes naturally, but if you want to make it better, all you can do is practice and try to make it perfect. Finding lateral problems in your everyday life is an excellent way to start polishing your skills. Other than that, you can use mind mapping, taking all the hints which you can get from your senses and reverse thinking.
This type of thinking skill is the middle one that possesses both the qualities of lateral thinking and convergent thinking. The counterpart of divergent thinking is a necessary evil. But in recent years, we have seen a rapid increase in the acceptance that accurate creative production has to be both divergent and convergent, and not just the former all alone.
Divergent thinking is about solving problems that allow you to have multiple possible solutions, to find out which one of them is working. Most of the time, this happens in free-flow, or you can say it spontaneously. In a small amount of time, already tried and tested solutions were studied to develop an unconventional connection that can provide a solution.
Once the divergent thinking stage gets completed, the information and the data of the project get structured and organized using convergent thinking. The main ingredients of divergent thinking are freewriting and brainstorming. Divergence ability is measured typically by producing many, or a significant number of complicated and complex ideas.
One of the best ways to teach divergent thinking to the upcoming generations is by indulging them in some creativity that will help them nurture their divergent skills. As a class teacher, one can draw a semi-abstract drawing, and give your students some time to find out all the different answers they can develop for what the picture might represent.
Also, for company HRs, they can make a team of 4 people and give them 3-4 different materials, and the teams have to come up with a list of things that can be made using those items. You can be a music composer or an arranger, or you can be the next big thing in the copywriting world. There are so many career options with divergent thinking, that you might not need the other two thinking skills to be at their best. Divergent thinkers are the complete opposite of convergent thinkers.
Convergent thinking is said to be the problem-solving technique that helps in bringing back together different ideas from different people who are from different fields, in an attempt to provide the single best solution to the given problem.
This type of thinking is more of analytical skill. Convergent thinking is what you engage in when you try to answer multiple-choice questions or fill up a blank question in your exam. In this type of thinking, the main goal is to find a single correct answer meaning, there can’t be multiple answers to the same question. It helps in better decision-making and allows you to go deep into the problem to find its solution.
Convergent and divergent are complete opposites of each other. A convergent person will only be thinking in two ways: it could be done, or it could not be done. For example, a convergent person will only think of being healthy and sick. There is nothing in between these two answers which he might want to choose. Just like a medical student could only be a doctor, or he could waste his degree and be nothing. In convergent thinking, there are no second options. A convergent mindset is what students require to crack standardized tests. As for the convergence, there are only two colors present globally, and that is black and white.
The people who have convergent thinking skills are good at analytics, and they sort out the solutions which came from divergent thinking.
There you have it, and these are the three different types of thinking, you might be good at something. But you still need more than one kind of thinking skill to perform well and make a great professional career and personal decisions in life. Indeed you can classify your thinking skills from these three, but you need to work on each of them at some part of your life.
Innovation management is not just about managing the idea and its planning but has much more to it. If you have a path-breaking idea, it will need the nourishment of proper management to flourish. So, it becomes paramount to learn the entire innovation management process for successful execution. If you want to make a career as a Creative Leader, Jigsaw Academy’s 5.5-month PG Certificate Program in Design Innovation and Strategy can be of help!