Diverging and Converging Through the Creative Process with #Ideas2Action

We all make decisions at basic and more advanced levels every day. At the basic level it will be about where to eat when meeting friends, while at the more advanced might be about where to go on holiday. On beyond that it could be about which career path to take, or whether that business idea is worth pursuing, and if so, then how to do that.

At the basic level we probably work through our steps subconsciously without much thought. As we move up the levels of complexity we will start to pause and consider what we’re doing at each step.

The Creative Process uses Diverging and Converging

The creative process includes four stages of discovery, design, develop and deliver. In discovery we explore what is the issue to be resolved. Design sets the parameters of the solution. We prototype a solution in develop, which we then use in the deliver stage. During each of these stages we should be looking for diverse options (diverging) before we apply a set of criteria to select an appropriate solution (converging) to apply.


If we walk through the simple process of deciding where to go for dinner with friends you can see how this works, and why we often go through steps unconsciously. We’ll also contrast this with a startup scenario to see how as the stakes go up the conscious steps come into view.

Discovery is about context

We start with the idea that it would be good to meet for dinner. We check with friends to see if they agree, or if lunch would be better depending upon the occasion, and if anything specific is to be talked about. Here we’re framing the challenge to come.

In the business scenario the discovery phase is about determining who your customers might be, and how much demand there is for the service you envisage. You would also consider any competitors, and where you would position yourself in the market. This is setting the background and context of the service you want to offer.

Design clarifies the boundaries of your options

For our meal with friends we need to now agree upon date and time, as well as who should be included in the outing. We can diverge on the options of when as well as who should come, and then select the final options based upon who can make it for the meal on which date.

The business will need to explore what might be possible with the business given what it knows about its potential market and customers. Here it can be wild in its options, and then select the one that is the most promising, exciting, or novel.

Develop is where we create the prototype solution

Now we get to the part where we decide to go for the meal. We have many options in principle, but in reality are constrained by budget, availability of seating, or reservations, as well as likes/dislikes of food by our friends, and the time available for the meal according to the type of place we choose for the meal. We can float these options to our friends until we find one that everyone agrees on for the meal. We probably rule out, based on past experience, a number of these questions as we already know the answer.

In the business we’re selecting and arranging the components of the service in different configurations to find the one that meets customer expectations best. Our constraints might be tied to a range of options such as ‘which one is most adaptable in the long term’, or ‘which one offers the most return soonest’, or ‘which one offers a long, steady increase in development because it also opens the doors for more options in the future.

Deliver is for confirming our assumptions

This is when we meet our friends and have that meal. We talk, eat, drink and find out that ‘yes, we did pick the right place’, or ‘bother, the service here is horrible. We should’ve gone to the other place’. Now we know for next time. Because, there is always ‘a next time’.

For the business, this is where the item is produced, packaged and sold. Or, the service is deployed and we’re working with our customers. Now we discover that everything is as expected, or is better/worse, than we planned. We also now find new issues, challenges and possibly opportunities, which we hadn’t thought about. This is all information, which we can use and develop for our next round of changes to our business.

We can now start the process over too. For this is never a linear process, but more like a wheel that goes round and round with multiple iterations. We learn more each time around for a specific project, but also learn more about the process too and how to better develop options for diverging to gain more options, as well as how to choose how we should converge on few, and then on one option to move forward.

Diverging and Converging with the Business Model Canvas

You might be thinking, I don’t need this, I have the Business Model Canvas to guide me. Yes, it will help you determine a good mix of components for your business model. But… it doesn’t help you work out a good way to diverge and generate more options. Nor does it help you determine the type of converging that you need at each stage.

In addition, the business model canvas doesn’t help you validate the assumptions behind your ideas. This process could be used to help you prioritise the components of your business model. Which ones should be focused on first to confirm that your business model is worthy of your time and energy. This process will help you validate your ideas with prototypes so that you ‘know’ you’re going in the right direction with your idea.

Attend an Ideas2Action workshop to apply this process to your challenges

Janny and I can teach you how to use this process in our workshop. You come with a challenge and we help you work through it during the session. We provide you with space, time and support to diverge on options, select the right criteria for converging on the one to carry forward. You leave with your action plan and know what to do next to make your dream happen.

You can use this process to determine where to go for dinner, or you could also use it to help you

  • explore career/retirement options
  • choose which of those business startup ideas you should pursue
  • decide upon your special holiday destination/activity
  • choose which option you should develop next at work

Whatever you do at whichever stage of life you’re at, we can help you uncover more options than you think you have, so that you pick the one that will leave you more satisfied than you thought you would be.

Go sign up for our #ideas2action workshop on 2 December 2017 on Eventbrite. Attend before the holidays so that you can plan your new ideas further for the new year.

2 thoughts on “Diverging and Converging Through the Creative Process with #Ideas2Action

Everyone Can Learn to be More Creative – Bruce Scharlau
December 3, 2018

[…] The last step in all of this is to always be looking for more options when exploring challenges and identifying solutions, as I’ve explained previously. […]

The Five Stages of Team Collaboration – Bruce Scharlau
October 13, 2020

[…] ideas to help you improve your collaboration. Lately I’ve realised that these fit into the 4D process of design, as I’ve outlined before, along with an extra addition for […]

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