Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking is a creative mode of thinking that explores many possible solutions and seeks to generate novel ideas.

Design activities that encourage divergent thinking often emphasize spontaneity and playfulness, and aim to create an open atmosphere for sharing good and bad ideas. Activities could include brainstorming, free writing, and bubble mapping. Once divergent thinking methods are used to generate a wide range of ideas, convergent thinking can be used to hone in on ideas and make decisions.

Many design methodologies explicitly define stages where divergent thinking is the focus. For example, in the double diamond diagram, the “Discover” stage focuses on divergent strategy or exploring the problem and landscape, and the “Develop” stage focuses on divergent execution or generating a range of ideas and solutions.

The Double Diamond Diagram: two diamonds side-by-side, broken down into Strategy (Discover and Define) and Execution (Develop and Deliver) phases, moving from problem to solution.

For more information, visit the Interaction Design Foundation’s divergent thinking definition.

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