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Convergent and Divergent Thinking: Differences, Examples and Methods

Convergent and divergent thinking are two different ways of thinking that play an important role in the creative process. Both mindsets are critical to developing effective solutions and complement each other. In this Navigator article, I describe the difference between convergent and divergent thinking, show examples, methods, and approaches for each approach.

Divergent thinking

Divergent thinking is a creative thinking approach that aims to generate a variety of ideas and possibilities without committing to a single solution. Divergent thinking is characterized by openness, flexibility and the pursuit of new perspectives. It encourages thinking “out of the box” and considering unconventional solutions.

  1. Goal: Generate a variety of ideas and opportunities.
  2. Characteristics: Openness, flexibility, striving for new perspectives.
  3. Approach: Creative, explorative and “out of the box” thinking.
  4. Result: A large number of ideas and proposed solutions.
  5. Methods: Brainstorming, mind mapping, creative writing, analogies and metaphors.
  6. Application: Best suited for the early stages of the creative process, such as ideation and problem definition.

Convergent thinking

Convergent thinking is best described as an analytical approach to thinking. It aims to select and develop the best solutions from the ideas generated during divergent thinking. Convergent thinking is characterized by logic, criticism, and the pursuit of consistency. It helps, for example, in design thinking to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of ideas and to select the most appropriate solutions for the problem at hand.

  1. Goal: Select and further develop the best solutions from the ideas generated.
  2. Characteristics: Logic, Criticism, Striving for Consistency and Efficiency.
  3. Approach: Analytical, systematic, and focused on evaluating ideas.
  4. Result: An informed decision for the most suitable solution.
  5. Methods: decision tree, pro and con list, prioritization, SWOT analysis.
  6. Application: Best suited for the later stages of the creative process, such as solution selection and implementation.


Convergent and divergent thinking are two critical mindsets in the creative process that complement and support each other. While divergent thinking helps to generate a wealth of ideas and perspectives, convergent thinking enables the evaluation and selection of the most appropriate solutions. To be successful in creative projects, it is important to encourage both convergent and divergent thinking and to find the right balance between the two approaches.

Handwritten by Christian Buchholz