Those who understand binary numbers and those who don’t. The joke is funnier when you understand that 10 in the binary system is the same as the decimal number two.
There are two distinct ways of thinking too, and both appear to be essential to companies that are trying to turn a profit through innovation. In an article about the world’s most innovative companies, FastCompany.com had this to say about innovation:
“…But there’s another kind of faith in business: The belief that a product or service can radically remake an industry, change consumer habits, challenge economic assumptions. Proof for such innovative leaps is thin, payoffs are long in coming (if they come at all), and doubting Thomases abound. Today, pundits fret about an innovation bubble. Some overvalued companies and overhyped inventions will eventually tumble and money will be lost. Yet breakthrough progress often requires wide-eyed hope.”
Perhaps it’s less of a hope and more of a commitment to fostering both divergent and convergent thinking within a company, which probably is not an easy thing to do. Divergent thinking is the process of generating many ideas related to a single subject or many solutions for a specific problem. For instance, strong divergent thinkers can come up with dozens of answers for questions like: How many uses can you think of for a knife and a brick? As it turns out, young children are terrific divergent thinkers. A longitudinal study of kindergarten children found that 98 percent of them were genius level divergent thinkers. By fifth grade, that percentage had dwindled to 50 percent or so. After another five years, even fewer were strong divergent thinkers.
Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the process of applying rules to arrive at a single correct solution to a problem or a limited number of ways to address a specific issue. Convergent thinking occurs in a more systematic and linear manner. Strong convergent thinkers rely on analysis, criticism, logic, argument, and reasoning to narrow down options and choose a path forward.
According to Psychology Today, “The highest levels of creativity require both convergent thinking and divergent thinking. This idea has long been known in creativity research… creativity involves a cyclical process of generating ideas and then systematically working out which ideas are most fruitful and implementing them. The generation stage is thought to involve divergent thinking whereas the exploration stage is thought to involve convergent thinking.”