Convergence?

Tim Kastelle writes about the problem with solutions – essentially that they stop us from thinking. He argues for leaving problems open for longer. (I sometimes talk about the danger of “premature encapsulation” where we force meetings to conclusions too hurriedly).

He goes on to share some diagrams showing divergence and convergence and I notice I feel troubled. It’s easy to idealise a process as if everyone in the room should be on the same schedule… right now we should all be diverging; and now we should all be in the middle bit, and now let’s all converge. This feels quite uncomfortable to me and many meetings get interesting results without the need for this kind of discipline.

And who’s to say the meeting should converge at all? Sometimes schisms and disputes may prove to be a useful part of a wider creative process.

Of course, any constraint has the potential to spark creativity but I’m personally quite cautious about closing the field in these ways.

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3 thoughts on “Convergence?

  1. Dwight Towers

    Edward De Bono (don’t know if you rate him?) tried to invent the word “po” for keeping things open and (potentially) fruitful. We rush to consensus because not-knowing, a liminal state, is scary. And often the solution(s) we come up with “work”, but you never know what else might have worked even better. Somewhere between hippies contemplating in a field forever and a snap decision after a phony “consultation” there is a sweet-spot. An ever moving sweet spot…

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  2. Tim Kastelle

    I agree that we don’t have to have convergence within a particular meeting. I was using the diagrams to illustrate a longer process – where a solution is definitely required. So at some point, we do have to come back to one preferred idea.

    But as you point out, premature encapsulation is definitely the main problem, so I think that most strategies that help us stretch out the time before we get to that point will tend to help.

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