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Divergent Thinking Versus Convergent Thinking

In what circumstances would you apply divergent vs. convergent thinking?
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FREDDIE OST: Well to us, divergent thinking is almost in every process, every project that we do. In our way that is to see things from many different angles. We believe…strongly believe that you need a team that is men and women, people from different areas of the world, people who are different, like backgrounds and stuff like that. And in that way, there will be divergency when you brainstorm an idea. I think that…well, almost every time as well the convergent, normal thinking, it’s already there. It’s came from the client and they kind of want us to be divergent and disruptive and whatever. And we could never do a work without doing that.
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So, we always like challenge our client and push them and almost every client won’t stop when they come to us and it’s their best feedback afterwards is that we helped push them along. So, I think that’s like the divergent part.
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KIRBY CLARK: So, basically throughout the entire design process we’re using a mix of divergent and convergent thinking. We really start out with divergent thinking. So, divergent thinking is like opening up. Alright, anything’s possible, blue sky thinking. Let’s look at all of the possibilities, then we move on to convergent thinking, which sort of looks more at framing and limitations. OK. Is this cost-prohibitive? What environmental impact will this have? Can we design this for disassembly? Can we design it for the circular economy? So, it’s kind of like narrowing down. So, we’re starting off with divergent, the biggest possible, craziest thing we can think of.
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And then convergent, which is sort of like narrowing down to like, OK, how can we make this actually happen?
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Divergent thinking specifically is pretty much the way that we start every single concept. So, once we’ve actually gone through the research or the empathy phase and we’re coming up with ideas, we’re ideating, we’re thinking about the blue sky possibility, what is the absolute biggest and best concept that we can come up with?
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FREDDIE OST: So, I think when it comes to convergent and divergent, as I said, we do mostly divergent work. And one good example is Monki where they came in and they lost their DNA to be standing on a young female side and be feministic because they were bought up by H&M and on their 10th year anniversary they suddenly had 120 stores all over the world and they’d lost their DNA. So, they wanted us to help them push that. And we came in and we wrote 10 very strong feministic statements and in this…here’s the divergent. We were like let’s…probably H&M is gonna come in and kill a lot of these ideas because they’ll see them as too risky.
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So, let’s aim extremely high so that when they cut them, we can push them back a bit and then it will still land where like where we want it to be. So, we had that strategy internally with the client and us. So, we wrote them very, very, very extreme. H&M could come in and cut and it was…landed in a very good level. And the…like the reason for the product was to provoke and talk, get people to talk about it. And it got massive feedback all around the world. So, I think that that’s a way of divergent thinking as well.
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KIRBY CLARK: So, for example, we always start out with divergent, the big picture thinking, the most crazy thing that we can think of sometimes, open up the possibilities and then we move it more to convergence. So, for example, we recently designed a fun maze exploration for a client of ours, which travelled throughout a couple of different music festivals along the East Coast. And when it came to building, that’s when we really needed to refine our ideas a little and think more convergently so we need to be designing for things like disassembly for transport and also to make sure that it works within the budget.
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