Design thinking is recognized as a holistic and user-centered methodology for addressing complex challenges. Central to this approach are two pivotal phases: diverge and converge. These phases facilitate a dynamic interplay between broad idea generation and targeted solution development, crucial for nurturing creativity and innovation. This article delves into the intricacies of these phases, their importance in the design thinking framework, and effective strategies for their implementation.

Understanding Diverge and Converge

Definition of Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Divergent thinking involves generating a multitude of creative solutions to a problem, characterized by open-ended exploration that pushes beyond traditional boundaries. In contrast, convergent thinking focuses on narrowing down these ideas to identify the most feasible and impactful solutions, employing analytical and critical skills to refine ideas into actionable plans.

The Role of Diverge and Converge in Design Thinking

The cyclical process of diverging and converging is fundamental to design thinking, ensuring a thorough exploration of the problem space and the generation of creative solutions, followed by a critical assessment and synthesis of these ideas into practical and innovative outcomes. This process promotes a deep understanding of user needs and the development of empathetic, user-centric solutions.

Benefits of Using Both Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Incorporating both divergent and convergent thinking into the design process offers numerous benefits. It enables a wide exploration of potential solutions, enhancing innovation and creativity. Moreover, it supports the development of practical and user-centric solutions by critically evaluating and refining ideas. This balanced approach improves problem-solving efficiency and increases the chances of discovering groundbreaking solutions.

How to Implement Divergence in Design Thinking

Maximizing the benefits of divergence requires fostering an environment that encourages expansive thinking and the free flow of ideas. Techniques such as brainstorming sessions, mind mapping, and sketching can stimulate creative thinking and idea generation. During this phase, it is crucial to withhold judgment, focusing on the quantity of ideas rather than their immediate quality. This open-ended exploration can lead to unexpected and innovative solutions.

Techniques for Effective Brainstorming and Ideation

Successful brainstorming and ideation hinge on several key techniques:

  • Setting Clear Objectives: Start with a well-defined understanding of the problem or challenge. This clarity will steer the ideation process.
  • Creating an Inclusive Environment: Ensure all participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas, no matter how unconventional.
  • Encouraging Wild Ideas: Foster the generation of bold, innovative ideas, as these can often lead to groundbreaking solutions.
  • Building on Others’ Ideas: Promote a culture where participants enhance and expand upon each other’s ideas, leading to collaborative innovation.

Transitioning from Divergence to Convergence

Moving from the open-ended exploration of divergence to the focused analysis of convergence involves a deliberate change in mindset. This phase requires establishing clear criteria for idea evaluation, such as feasibility, impact, and alignment with user needs. Techniques like affinity diagramming, which groups ideas into themes, can aid in organizing and prioritizing ideas for further development.

Criteria for Evaluating and Selecting Ideas

When converging, consider the following criteria to assess ideas:

  • Feasibility: Is the idea realistically implementable within existing constraints?
  • Desirability: Does the idea address users’ needs and desires effectively?
  • Viability: Is the idea sustainable from a business or organizational standpoint?

Implementing Convergence in Design Thinking

Convergence focuses on refining and synthesizing the plethora of ideas into a coherent and actionable solution. This involves prototyping, testing, and validating ideas with stakeholders and end-users. Adopting an iterative approach, where the team alternates between divergence and convergence, ensures continuous refinement and enhancement of the solution, resulting in a more robust and user-centered design.

Testing and Validating Ideas with Stakeholders and End-Users

Involving stakeholders and end-users in the testing and validation phase is essential. Their feedback offers invaluable insights that can further refine and improve the solution. Prototyping, whether through sketches, models, or digital simulations, enables tangible exploration and assessment of ideas, facilitating effective communication and collaboration with stakeholders.

Examples of Diverge and Converge in Action

High-level examples illustrate the efficacy of the diverge-converge approach in design thinking. For instance, the redesign of a shopping cart and the transformation of a startup into a global hospitality leader both demonstrate how divergent and convergent thinking can lead to innovative and impactful solutions. These examples offer practical insights and inspiration for applying these principles across various contexts.

Tips for Success

To maximize the benefits of diverge and converge in design thinking, consider the following tips:

  • Cultivate a culture that values and supports both divergent and convergent thinking.
  • Use visual tools and collaborative platforms to enhance idea generation and evaluation.
  • Engage stakeholders and end-users throughout the design process to ensure solutions are grounded in real-world needs.
  • Embrace the iterative and non-linear nature of design thinking, allowing for flexibility and continuous improvement.

We encourage practitioners and enthusiasts in the design and innovation fields to integrate the principles of diverge and converge into their projects. By doing so, you can enhance your creative problem-solving capabilities and drive meaningful innovation. Resources, templates, and case studies are available to support your journey in applying these transformative design thinking processes.


The dynamic interaction between diverge and converge is a cornerstone of design thinking, driving the creative and innovative problem-solving process. By embracing and effectively implementing these phases, teams can explore a broad range of ideas and refine them into practical, user-centric solutions. This article has provided strategies and techniques to leverage the power of diverge and converge, aiming to inspire and guide individuals and teams in their design thinking endeavors.


  • What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a user-centric approach to problem-solving that involves understanding the user’s needs, ideating a wide range of solutions, prototyping, and testing. It emphasizes empathy, collaboration, and iterative learning.

  • What do “diverge” and “converge” mean in design thinking?

In design thinking, “diverge” refers to the phase where the team generates a wide array of ideas and explores various possibilities without judgment. “Converge” is the phase where the team narrows down those ideas, critically evaluates them, and focuses on developing the most promising solutions.

  • Why are both divergent and convergent thinking important in design thinking?

Divergent thinking encourages creativity and the exploration of numerous possibilities, ensuring a broad range of ideas. Convergent thinking is crucial for refining those ideas into practical, feasible solutions. Together, they ensure a balance between creativity and practicality.

  • How can I encourage divergent thinking in a brainstorming session?

To encourage divergent thinking, create an open and inclusive environment where all ideas are welcomed. Encourage participants to think freely and creatively, without fear of judgment. Techniques like setting a high idea quota or using prompts can also stimulate divergent thinking.

  • How do you transition from divergence to convergence?

Transitioning from divergence to convergence involves shifting from an open-minded, exploratory mindset to a more analytical and critical approach. This can be facilitated by setting clear objectives for the convergent phase, such as defining criteria for idea selection and establishing a process for evaluating ideas.

  • Can the diverge-converge process be repeated?

Yes, the diverge-converge process is inherently iterative. Teams often cycle through these phases multiple times, refining their understanding of the problem and solutions with each iteration. This iterative approach allows for continuous improvement and adaptation.

  • How do you involve stakeholders in the convergent phase?

Stakeholders can be involved in the convergent phase by participating in idea evaluation sessions, providing feedback on prototypes, and sharing their insights and priorities. Their involvement ensures that the solutions developed are aligned with user needs and business objectives.