Steps in creative thinking:

1)      Fact-finding – divergent – broad inquiry into issues relevant to case. How? What?

2)      Problem-finding – convergent –  focus on possible solutions and design issues (too costly? too big?). Discard least likely to succeed. When? How much?

3)      Idea-finding – divergent – from the possible solutions begin finding ways to implement it.

4)      solution-finding – convergent. Look through possible (implementable) solutions and pick the best (beauty, simplicity, efficiency, cost).

5)      Plan of action. Scale models. Negotiation. Persuasion. Alliances.


Divergent/convergent thinking:

·         Divergent: open-ended, broad, wide

·         Convergent: focused, narrow, deep


Applying to study of sacred texts:

·         Fact-finding: When was it written? Where else was this written about? What else does it reference? What type of writing is this?

·         Problem-finding: Why was this written? What is the message? What is the purpose? Who is the audience?

·         Idea-finding: What are the possible interpretations of this passage? What are the possible implications of each interpretation? What issues does it address?

·         Solution-finding: of the many ideas identified which one speaks to my current situation? What does it mean to me? Why should I care?

·         Plan of Action: Who else should hear about this? Who else can I engage in this work?


Of course this approach can (should?) be applied to all forms of study. Perhaps it could be stretched to include all forms of communication? The first four steps involve active listening – not only not rushing to get a plan of action/advice but also asking questions which are both divergent and convergent. Only the final step involves speaking, i.e. offering suggestions, advice, to-do items.


If only I could be silent during four fifths of my conversations!


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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