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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Divergent Thinking is the Key

The RSA clip in this post addresses inadequacies in our education system, which I feel are directly linked to the general weakness of entrepreneurial will in this country. Granted there are some excellent examples out there of genuinely amazing business people, but why is it that the majority of us are lukewarm to the idea? The key thing to take away from the clip, I think is the concept of Divergent Thinking
(Wikipedia summarizes Divergent thinking as a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions) When a company I worked for many years ago introduced brain storming sessions, it was embarrassing how totally inept we were at it. In fact so poor was the feedback from the floor that the meetings rapidly deteriorated into rubber stamping sessions for the boss’s latest whim. The staff were either too scared to propose something that challenged the status quo or just didn’t want to be seen to disagree with the boss. Whatever the case, brain storming sessions in that organisation were about as useful as shoes are to a fish.

Being an entrepreneur requires you to be creative, perceptive, adaptive, persistent, durable and determined. Think about all the ways you can meet the identified need and deliver the product/service, continuously assess feedback from your environment, adapt to external stimuli if it will improve your offering, keep doing what works, always look out for opportunities to improve and don’t give up. Our current education system rewards crammers. When a crammer is faced with a new problem that was not covered in their study text & curriculum they tend to freeze, unable to try and figure out how they can use their existing knowledge to solve the problem in another way. A divergent thinker would have probably already considered a similar scenario or will at least be more willing to consider proposed solutions from staff & friends no matter how wild they may sound at first.  From the outset a divergent thinker acknowledges that several solutions exist for the same problem and all they have to do is pick one and tweak it for their business. I know it may be a little too late for us to undo our education, but at least we have time to reconsider the kind of pressure we put on our kids. While we are applauding the single-minded approach that is required to excel in certain subjects please don’t forget to encourage a healthy imagination and some spontaneity. 


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