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MBA Curriculum Insight: Four Principles for Becoming a More Divergent Thinker

Study alongside Walden University students with this required reading taken from the Master of Business Administration degree course: Fostering a Culture of Innovation.

Creativity, at its core, is seeing the world differently than everyone else. The more creative you are, the more new possibilities you see. And those new possibilities are what fuel new art, new inventions, and new business ideas. If you want to be an innovator, you have to be creative. Which means, you have to be a divergent thinker.

Divergent thinking is creativity. It’s “thinking outside the box,” an overused term that nevertheless has merit. The more you can question preconceived notions and see what might be missing—instead of only seeing what already exists—the more able you’ll be to come up with innovative ideas that advance your management career.

MBA Curriculum Insight: Four Principles for Becoming a More Divergent Thinker

If you’ve never or don’t frequently engage in divergent thinking, don’t worry. Divergent thinking is a skill you can learn—one that even the most talented students at top MBA programs must spend time mastering. How can you master it? By taking courses like Fostering a Culture of Innovation, which is taught in Walden University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Among the resources included in this Walden course is Gerard Puccio’s book Creativity Rising. In it, Puccio presents four key principles for divergent thinking: 1) Defer judgment; 2) Go for quantity; 3) Make connections; 4) Seek novelty.

In this excerpt from Creativity Rising, Puccio expands on each principle:

To defer judgment means to hold evaluation until a later time.
Deferring judgment requires the ability to suspend skepticism and to entertain the potential value of every alternative you might generate. This can be more difficult than it sounds (not that we’re saying it sounds easy in the first place). Particularly in Western cultures, we are not taught to suspend judgment. We are taught to be decisive, which people generally take to mean: decide immediately. While there are many cases where a quick decision is required, premature judgment is the enemy of creative thinking.

To go for quantity is to be a fluent thinker, generating many ideas, options, and alternatives.
Quantity breeds quality. The more alternatives we generate, the more likely we are to find a promising option and, ultimately, produce a creative breakthrough. We can think of quantity in two ways: in particular and in general. In the particular, it is beneficial to seek a quantity of ideas when engaged in divergent thinking; that is, when addressing a particular problem. In general, a habit of divergent thinking leads to a quantity of ideas, which means we have more possibilities to play with in our lives.

To make connections is to combine things that had not been combined, or to draw inspiration from one thing when working on another.
Making connections is essential to the creative process. New thoughts or ideas are very often a combination of previously unrelated thoughts or ideas, which assume a new form as they intersect or are looked at from a different perspective. Most new consumer products are the combination of different parts that, when put together, create a new whole.

To seek novelty is to pursue the goal of originality.
There is no creativity without originality. Thus, the guideline “Seek Novelty” is both a reminder and an encouragement to generate options that are new and unusual, options that go beyond the obvious and the familiar.

Creativity is not just originality, of course; creative solutions must also be useful, valuable, and appropriate. But that determination comes later. The divergent phase is the time to pursue novel responses.”

How Else Can You Learn to Be a More Divergent Thinker?

If you want to be a business manager capable of leading your team and organization forward, you’ll want to improve your divergent thinking—a goal you can reach in a business degree/management degree program, like Walden’s master’s of business administration program.

In Walden’s MBA degree program, you can study Puccio’s Creativity Rising along with a variety of other resources, all of which are part of a career-focused curriculum designed to equip you with the expertise you need to move ahead in today’s workforce. It’s exactly what you need from a business administration degree and it’s part of Walden’s online graduate degree programs.

Because Walden offers an online learning platform, you can take your courses from anywhere you have internet access. It’s a level of convenience that makes online MBA programs well-suited to anyone who needs flexible scheduling. Earning an MBA online is a great choice if you work full time because you can attend class at whatever time of day works best for your schedule, allowing you to fit your business administration master’s in with your existing responsibilities.

Divergent thinking can take your career further. And becoming a more divergent thinker can begin now, thanks to the online education offered by Walden University.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Business Administration degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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