Diverge/Converge - from teeth to designing solutions.

When I knew that last Saturday one of my mentors - Dr Ricardo Mitrani, a globally recognized dentist with whom I worked for 3 years in Mexico City - was going to lecture for a study club in San Francisco, the first thought that came into my mind was that I would have a different experience when compared to other conferences I attended, including the ones he lectured. But I didn’t know what exactly to expect.

Well, I can say that listening to him for almost 2 hours was wonderful. Not only for seeing him teaching and sharing his own clinical experiences, but by finding parallels between dental practice and design process.

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As Ricardo was sharing one of his high-complexity level cases regarding dental treatment, one of his ways to work on a treatment plan and get to the best possible solution for this specific case, he described how he firstly approached a “divergence thinking”, considering all possible questions, outcomes, treatment solutions and other factors that could be taken into account, trying at best not to pre-judge if anything would sound “too risky or crazy”, “out-of-context”, “not regularly applicable” or even "not possible".

I automatically remembered those moments when, after going out of office to do fieldwork for innovation projects, observing and chatting with people that could lead to great insights, the team started diverging on ideas, free ideas, thinking out of the box.

After the divergence thinking, Ricardo started to converge and selecting the best solutions for his case. At this moment, he took into consideration his own experience and knowledge, the risk factors, patient’s situation (age, sex, biotype, health conditions, attitude towards re-treatment and so on) and other variables that should be taken into account.

In the end, not only he felt more confident about the steps that must be taken, but also he had a much clearer awareness of the situation he was facing in order to go on and do it. And, even considering that biology is not an exact science at all, the chances the case to be successful are far higher if decisions were made with a closed mind.

Doing a parallel, when the concept of solutions start arising after the divergence exercise, the feeling of getting closer to the best resolution for a problem is something extremely pleasant. And may be applied when seeing a patient, searching for a way to improve adherence in a treatment, designing a new device for glucose level detection and other many situations.