How many times have we heard this: “It’s a good idea but…” – the dreaded killer phrase? We know them in every language. Someone is trying to diverge and another person cuts in right on top of him/her. The ideation session is now severely impeded, maybe even stopped in its tracks. People raise up their guards and pull back from offering any novel ideas knowing they will get shot down. Sound familiar?

Divergence is critical to successful ideation but being skilled at convergence is also important and critical – we must not mix them together. The ability to defer judgment is a fundamental skill.

At Basadur, we teach three different skills in the Simplexity System: 1) active divergence, 2) active convergence and 3) deferral of judgment. All three are critical to run the Simplexity process. At converging time we do it together. Team members don’t judge or vote. They discuss and clarify to understand the ideas – together choose the best ones. During this initial convergence often a stream of exciting new ideas comes up . They percolate up because the group makes a conscious effort to clarify what they are discussing.

The tool used to ensure these three skills are utilized is called “telescoping”. Teamwork is too often dysfunctional because people mix divergence/convergence at all steps of the process. They don’t realize it and get bogged down and frustrated.

Telescoping is NOT the same as voting – we never use the “v’ word in our sessions. Taking a large number of good ideas and picking the few great ones requires skill.

When someone picks an idea as being important to him/her, we need to listen why it’s important. Often others feel the same way but can’t express their thoughts as clearly or succinctly. If you have ever encountered an ideation session or a team meeting where an idea that gets the most votes gets the go ahead, you know what we mean.

Telescoping is a clarifying converging tool. It’s used to take a big list of ideas and whittle them down to a manageable number or critical few. The tool helps us further understand each other’s views while together we shape a good idea into something really special, an idea we all can rally around and get excited about.

We never, ever drive a car with the brakes on but we do it all the time when judging something new and different. Use the telescoping tool next time you run an ideation session and get ready for some great discussions!