Divergent thinking is the ability to elaborate and cultivate diverse and original ideas with fluency and speed. It’s the snowball effect that occurs when mulling over one idea and instantly coming up with a variety of “what ifs,” connecting possibilities to find a broad range of solutions. This type of thinking is essential in business since it is necessary for innovation and can influence the overall success of an organization.
How does one measure the divergent thinking abilities of his or her staff?
There are seven elements associated with creative thinking abilities used to help identify divergent thinkers. They are:
- Fluency – The ability to come up with many ideas that, in turn, influence the number of possible solutions to a problem.
- Flexibility – Having different perceptions of certain ideas that can change the nature of a problem.
- Elaboration – Building on an idea to exhaust all avenues when problem solving.
- Originality – Developing fresh or daring ideas for processes that are considered to be “outside the box” of the normal ways of doing things.
- Complexity – Being able to peel back the layers of a seemingly difficult concept to understand it better.
- Imagination – Inventing ingenious ideas or products.
- Curiosity – Unabashed and eager to ask questions, probe further into concepts, and learn more about ideas or concepts to increase fluency.
One test used to gauge one’s creativity is Guilford’s Alternative Uses exam. It asks students to name all alternative uses for a common object and “grades” them on specific factors such as originality, fluency, flexibility and elaboration. These factors can be very insightful for leaders looking for certain qualities in their team dynamic.
Another test, The Candle Problem, challenges an individual to think outside the box and come up with unconventional ways to use a common item to solve a problem.
Many methods can be applied to measure the divergent thinking prowess of your team. By understanding where their strengths lie, you can develop a strong team of thinkers who will inevitably lead your organization toward innovation and future success.
To discover more on how you can implement divergent and critical thinking, Stir It Up with a workshop from one of our Ascendis Experts.