Converge to Actionable
Episode #8 of the course How to lead a productive and creative brainstorm by TD Haines
“The distance between dreams and reality is called action.” —Unattributed
Why Converge Ideas?
Just as we’ve discussed before, we aren’t wasting any actions in our prepared environment. It’s good to create disruptive ideas, but it’s better to create disruptive and actionable ones. So let’s starting narrowing the gap between dreams and reality.
Using the lenses helps us create choices. Converging is when we start to make choices.* While thinking through the lens, you’ve asked your brainstormers to hold off on trying to make things work. Converging is when it’s ok to let the culture and day-to-day to start impacting brainstormed solutions. But we’re going to do so in a controlled way.
Before moving on to the next lens, you need to converge the thinking. It is another balancing act you will need to manage as facilitator—the ebb and flow. Diverge, converge, diverge, converge, and so on.
We’re going to start introducing the day-to-day operations and processes but not discredit any brainstormed ideas. The focus should be on how to make ideas work given the current environment.
This is another time you want to give thinking time on before taking comments.
This is also an opportunity to start building a test plan for your brainstormed idea. We’ll talk more about test plans in the next lesson.
Ask your participants “What’s the riskiest assumption?” What you’re after here is to identify the fundamental nugget of the brainstormed solution that has to be true for it all to work. The keystone assumption. If you test the keystone and it fails, you have to pivot before moving to the next piece of the solution.
Sometimes the keystone assumption is simple, like access to a resource, and other times it can be trickier to find. Occasionally there are multiple “riskiest” assumptions. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to have your participants vote.
Another great question when converging is “What’s our first step?” It keeps the brainstormed solution is a positive light, because we’re talking about making it happen. But it also brings in current processes as a constraint to work through.
Knowing when to converge and diverge is a learned skill. The more you practice facilitating brainstorms with an eye on when to do either, the easier it will become.
*Super Secret Note: Converging is also great for reeling in your brainstormers when they are getting too divergent. Some lenses have a life of their own and can take off in a heartbeat.
• After each lens on your brainstorming plan, add the word “Converge” and some space for notes.
• Create a personal list of “triggers.” These are events or actions that indicate to you “I need to converge them here.”
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
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