The Betterific Blog

Connecting consumers with brands to crowdsource and innovate on product ideas.

Guest Blog Post: How to plan for creativity; The power of divergent and convergent ideation

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We are excited to bring you Joyce Wycoff, an author and expert on gratitude and creativity.  She is a thinker and a doer.  She started an innovation conference in the mid 90s, before innovation was a buzzword.

The Betterific memberbase is comprised of design thinkers, product developers, and smart creatives.  So we like to bring content that helps expand the mind around creativity and brainstorming.  Below is Joyce’s version of breaking down the science of creativity.  It is reposted with her permission.

At Betterific, we faciliatate both convergent (thru our crowdsourced innovation challenges) and divergent thinking (thru our concept refinement and crowdselect challenges). Read below to get smart; reach out to us if you’re interested in learning more about tapping into Betterific’s crowd of design thinkers to rethink your products and services.

Creativity can seem like magic — and it is — but it can also be clarified by understanding the underlying phases and principles plus one very important rule. Read on to learn more!

Creativity can seem like magic — and it is — but it can also be clarified by understanding the underlying phases and principles plus one very important rule.
There are two phases of creativity:

  1. Divergence: Stimulating new thinking by diversifying and exploring; and
  2. Convergence: Refining and choosing the best possibilities.


Each phase has a series of five operating principles which happen to fit neatly into the acronym Swami Soars! (If you hate acronyms, feel free to ignore it.)

There is one over-riding rule of creativity:

Separate the two phases. Trying to diverge and converge at the same time makes people crazy and sucks the juice out of the creative process, leaving you with pale, lifeless ideas.

Divergence principles – SWAMI

While there are hundreds of divergence techniques, they basically relate to five simple principles. Once you understand these principles, you can easily add to your Divergence toolkit without feeling overwhelmed.

The job of all divergence tools is to stimulate new thinking. Here are the five basic action principles (stated as verbs) inherent in all these tools:

Suppose: Putting yourself in imaginary situations switches on new ways of thinking. Suppose you were from Mars, what would this problem look like? Suppose you were six years old or three feet tall, what would the future look like to you? Suppose you could smash all the assumptions around this issue?

Wander: Wandering through new territory with an open mind vacuums up new connections and linkages. For instance, you can wander through hardware or antique stores, new magazines or conferences, random images or analogies from nature.

Associate: Deliberately create new linkages between objects, ideas, events, people, or processes. As you link things together that normally are not connected, you begin to see new relationships and new possibilities.

Morph: Change various aspects of the situation, make the familiar strange and the strange familiar.

Inquire: Questions create openings. A great question can unravel a mystery like a kitten batting a ball of twine. Finding those great questions that open minds and the secrets of the universe is a learned skill based on some simple principles and practice.


Convergence Principles – SOARS!

There are almost as many convergence techniques as there are divergence ones. However, again they relate to five basic principles. The job of convergence tools is to make sense of what is often an overwhelming number of possibilities, to narrow down the choices in order to make an intelligent decision. Here are the five action principles (again stated as a verb) all convergence tools relate to:

Sort: In order to make sense of what is often hundreds of possibilities, they need to be grouped into meaningful categories. Categories might be related to time, feasibility, market demand, availability of resources, type of possibility or any other category that would bring order out of the chaos.

Order: Possibilities within a viable categories can be ranked against pre-established criteria to create an order of preference.

Adapt: Once likely possibilities have been identified, they can be expanded and adapted to create even better ideas.

Refine: Likely possibilities need to be bullet proofed to find the weak spots and possible failure points.

Select: Ideas are only ideas until they are implemented and to be implemented, they need to be “owned.” Getting the right people to take ownership in the idea is a critical piece of the process.


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