Apr 2018 - ongoing
The design of a toolkit for revergence in creative sessions
Creative facilitation sessions come to solve the complex problems the world is facing nowadays. Using participants from different work areas to walk through a problem together, these sessions are guided by facilitators. They are the ones expected to bring a creative mindset to the involved people.
LEF Future Center, part of Rijkswaterstaat since 2008, brings a contribution to the power of change and the problem-solving capacity of their stakeholders. They have a set of creative environments to properly stimulate participants during the facilitation sessions. This project, done in combination between TU Delft and LEF Future Center, focuses on supporting participants’ creativity during sessions at LEF.
The creative diamond (Guilford, 1950) is the basis approach for facilitation sessions, distinguishing between participants’ divergence and convergence thinking. During the first, many ideas are generated, while comes to a final idea/decision when converging. It is common to let participants make use of different means to generate ideas, like whiteboards, sticking notes, and markers. It is known that people might underrate their own creativity, and the facilitators’ work is to facilitate participants’ creativity. Written, visual and verbal communication is important to let participants express their ideas to each other during sessions.
Besides the classical creative diamond, newer studies have shown the need to differentiate a step in-between the divergence and convergence phases (eg. Tassaul and Buijs; Kaner; Heijne and Smit). It is called revergence and aims to revisit and rearrange every generated idea during the divergence, by making clusters. A literature study was executed to investigate further developments in the creative diamond approach, as well as what influence people’s creativity.
At LEF, facilitators let participants generate as many ideas as possible (when diverging), and to come up with a final solution to the indicated problem (when converging). Further investigation with context observations and interviews with facilitators was performed. It was confirmed that not every facilitator does the converging phase of the session, and that many are not aware of the reverging as a separate stage from converging. In the end, clusters of ideas can be created in a messy mean, leading to deliverables for clients that may not show the full creative potential of the session.
As a way to stimulate participants’ generation of ideas and the creation of clusters, the design of the tool thus focuses on supporting facilitators to perform the revergence phase of sessions. Joining findings from both the literature review and context mapping, a promising direction was identified in the use of combination tools for the three phases of the sessions. Using rapid prototyping tests of the tools, a toolkit structure for performing the reverging phase was designed: the Clustalk toolkit.