Understanding Divergent and Convergent Thinking with Stakeholders

Have you ever felt that when Stakeholders aren’t happy, no one on the Scrum Team is happy? Or have you ever felt like no matter what you do, the Stakeholders aren’t pleased with the Product?

Those are signs that it’s time for the Product Owner to facilitate a meeting with the Stakeholders to get to the root of the problem!

As a refresher…

Who are Stakeholders?

Owners, managers, employees, customers, society, suppliers, creditors, government

Why is it important to identify all the right stakeholders?

  • It puts more ideas on the table
  • It includes varied perspectives
  • It gains buy-in and support for the effort from all Stakeholders
  • It’s fair to everyone
  • It saves you from being blindsided by concerns you didn’t know about
  • It strengthens your position if there’s opposition
  • It increases the chances of the success of your effort

 

Convergent and Divergent Thinking

When trying to solve any problem, there are two basic ways we can think about the possible solution.

Divergent thinking is the type of thinking we do when solving an abstract or new problem that has many possible answers, solutions, or outcomes. Coming up with that solution required creativity, or divergent thinking. When you write a poem or story you have an endless supply of possible characters, words to use, and themes or events that might happen, so this creative process requires divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking is the type of thinking we do when solving a well-defined, straightforward, correct answer to a problem. For example, what’s the capital of England? The answer is London. If you knew the answer, you used convergent thinking.

Examples of Divergent Thinking

Brain storming
Silent Writing
Mind Mapping

Examples of Convergent Thinking

Dot voting
Fist of five
Roman Voting

As a Product Owner, you need to Facilitate the Stakeholder meeting and allow ample time for brainstorming (divergent thinking), and then help everyone come to a common conclusion (convergent thinking). Once a decision is made that the Stakeholders agree upon, the PO can bring it back to the Team and reassess the Product Goal.