Are you a divergent thinker? Most of us have heard of the movie “Divergent” which was released in 2014. It is about a girl (played by Shailene Woodley) who grew up in a post apocalyptic world that was segregated into five factions. Each faction had a distinct role to fill in the “new world” and everyone in each faction was expected to think and act in accordance with the mission of their faction. Those who could not fit into one of the factions were homeless, lived on the street and called factionless.
Every year the kids who were turning 18 had to take a test that determined their mindset and selected their faction for life. This faction could be the one they grew up in or it could be one of the other four. If it was a different faction than they grew up in, they would have to leave their family and everything they had known and move in with the new faction. No cross-faction citizenship was allowed.
Although this system appeared to result in a very orderly and focused society, it was obviously very closed minded and limiting. It did not allow for much in the way of free thinking or creativity.
Tris, the heroine in the story, found out that she was one of the few people left in the world that was a cross faction thinker. She was able to think outside the mindset of her faction and combine the viewpoints of multiple factions to solve problems and confront issues. This ability was called “divergence” and was punishable by death! Can you imagine being one of the best, most innovative thinkers in society and then being labeled a “divergent” or “heretic” and being at risk of losing your life? Our society has been guilty of this over the years. People like: Galileo who was labeled a heretic by the church and put under house arrest because he said the earth orbited the sun (the church believed the earth was geocentric); or Socrates who was sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of Athens with his ideas!
Fortunately, in today’s western societies, we do not execute people for thinking differently. Ironically, however, we are not taking advantage of this freedom as we should. We have a huge need for divergent thinkers to solve the complex economic, politcal, societal, environmental, business, and scientific challenges! Instead, I think our society is guilty of producing convergent thinkers by demanding that we be educated to solve problems in a prescribed, formulaic way. Everyone comes up with the same neatly written solutions. If you don’t solve your problems using the prescribed method you don’t pass your class.
What we need is more creativity and out of the box thinking. Marty Neumeier calls this type of thinking “Consilience.” This is defined as the “jumping together” of knowledge from different fields of endeavor. Erwin McManus in his book The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art stated that “Divergent thinking focuses on the spontaneous, free flowing release of creativity and imagination to explore unknown paths and discover unexpected solutions.”
This is exactly what we need in today’s world with today’s complex challenges. . . Divergent thinking that pulls together knowledge from different fields of endeavor and uses this to explore unknown paths and discover unexpected solutions.
So don’t be a convergent thinker. Be a free thinker, creative, innovative, a connector of unconnected ideas . . . be a Divergent Thinker and see how this can positively impact your life and your business.