Force of Convergence

Day 134 Week 20 Q2 Monday, May 13, 2024

Often, creative outliers are a force of divergence. We have many ideas, and they are not all in the same direction. Sometimes, when we share our ideas with others, we confuse them by providing too many options. When a group feels frozen and unable to move forward, a creative outlier can get them unstuck. However, getting unstuck and getting moving are not the same. In other words, you can pull somebody out of a ditch and get them back on the road, but which direction should they follow?

If you can create options extremely easily, you might tend to overdo it. In business, you might have a tendency to “selling past the close.” This means you’ve gotten people excited about what you’re offering, and then you confuse them by continuing to provide more options and information than they need.

If someone sends you an email with a one-paragraph question, and you answer with two pages, you’re engaging in ‚Äúselling past the close.” One or two paragraphs usually suffice. Even if you’re determined to answer the question they should have asked, resist the temptation, because you would likely give them more information than they need. They won’t read it, and two weeks later, when they realize the question they should have asked, they’ll ask again, and you’ll be frustrated because you already answered it. You might not even remember the answer because you’ve moved on.

The flipside of having a tremendous number of ideas is the responsibility to be a force of convergence. After brainstorming and throwing everything up in the air, people will be confused and not know how to proceed. Some may want to move in the direction of one idea, and others toward a different one. You got them unstuck, but unless you accept the responsibility to converge, they won’t know what to do.

You might say, “I never intended to be a leader; I just wanted to get unstuck.” Unfortunately, unless you also act as a force of convergence, everyone will get stuck again, and it might be your fault because you gave them too many options and paralyzed them.

You can do this to yourself, too. You ask a question and come up with many answers, then spend forever evaluating all the possibilities. Too many ideas can be as counterproductive as not having enough.

This is why you need to be first a force of divergence, and second, a force of convergence. Otherwise, nothing may happen, people will still be stuck, and they’ll be frustrated because they briefly felt unstuck and then collapsed again. If you’re going to be a creative outlier, you’ll probably have to take some responsibility for leadership, and that means acting as a force of convergence.