One of the most reliable techniques when seeking ideas and creative expression on a specific organizational topic is known as: Diverge > Converge
This approach, when well executed, can precipitate extremely diverse thinking and serve to propel imagination. Thus this technique tends to ensure that a wide spectrum of possibilities will be harvested and properly considered.
Equally important, this technique prevents the common temptations and tendencies of “falling in love” with the early idea(s) too soon.
The basic methodology and rules are simple. However, execution requires clear instructions, strict discipline and is best conducted within an innovation content management system (ICMS), such as TalentSphere’s Innovation Harvester™ (which this author assumes the reader will be applying).
Rules and Methods
1. Create a specific iChallenge™ designed as appropriate for the innovation topic. This will be your Divergent iChallenge, and is so determined by its content and its purpose within the overall DC process.
2. The Divergent iChallenge is distributed to the targeted “original audience.”
3. As members of the original audience submit ideas (Idea Value Propositions™ or IVPs), this incoming harvest is added to the Divergent iChallenge and becomes a part of the content provided to the original audience. As incoming ideas are revealed to the original audience, it is understood that similar ideas to previous submissions will NOT be accepted. Thus, any following idea submissions or IVPs must be “substantively different” from all those that preceded it.
4. At some point reviewers or the program administrator will determine they have reached a threshold of what they deem to be an acceptable portfolio of divergent IVP submissions. This threshold will typically be defined by elapsed time or the quantity or quality of IVP submissions including the range of differences or substantive evidence of diminishing returns.
5. Once the threshold point is reached; a “Convergent iChallenge” is then created. To it is attached the portfolio of all current IVPs. The purpose of the Convergent iChallenge is to solicit opinions, discussions, collaboration, comments, concerns and votes on the IVP portfolio. It may or may not carry with it organizational or reviewer opinions, notes, comments, guidance or direction. These may be either general in nature, referring to all of the IVPs, or there may be specific references to certain select IVPs, or grouped IVPs. The Convergent iChallenge is often simply an appropriately modified version of the original Divergent iChallenge, with applicable content added as well as removed. It will include the addition of new instructions for the forthcoming audiences and direct them to the actions that are desired of them.
The Convergent iChallenge certainly will present a new query with the objectives of gaining information from the new audience which will generally be related to their opinions, concerns, choices, comments and selections from the portfolio of IVP. This query will help determine from the IVPs which may be superior or inferior, relatively speaking.
6. The Convergent iChallenge is then distributed to a select audience for comment, option, discussion and voting. This select audience distribution may be the original audience, a new audience or combinations and hybrids of the two. Since the Convergent iChallenge presents the collective of all applicable IVPs at the moment, it will often breed even more creativity, thus new ideas and insights (see #7 below).
7. During this period, it can be expected that additional entirely new IVPs may be created from this audience. When this occurs, these become a part of the divergent harvest, and are added to the Convergent iChallenge’s IVP (at the timing and discretion of the reviewers or program administrator).
8. At a second point in time, quantity and/or quality, all IVPs for the Convergent iChallenge are reviewed, considered and the most valuable idea, ideas or integrated combination thereof, is decided and accepted.
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