How could we play an infinite game?

Playing trivia doesn’t require someone to have a ton of specific knowledge on sports, history, music and politics, although that certainly helps.

What makes a strong player is their ability to engage in divergent thinking, which is thought process by which you explore many different solutions to a potential problem. You give an enthusiastic yes to all answers from all team members at the onset, build a bank of possibilities without any judgment, and only then do you narrow down from there.

All of this happens in a matter of a few minutes, but it gives the team much more leverage because it’s fast, it’s friendly and it’s efficient. Plus, it’s more more fun and inclusive.

Compare that strategy of playing trivia to convergent thinking. This is what most people have been trained to do by the flawed standardized testing system to which our nation so passionately adheres.

Convergent thinking is when we focus on coming up with the single, established answer to the problem. Leaving no room for ambiguity, mo room for minority opinions.

Now, this might get us the right answer on the multiple choice test and a pat on the head when we’re in high school. But in the real world of complexity, nuance and human influence, not all problems have a single solution than can be perfectly ranked. You almost have to explore many different solutions to a potential problem, or you might go crazy.

Clue, a favorite comedy film from my childhood, has perhaps the most divergent ending of any movie in modern history. The producers fashioned the murder mystery script in such a way that it could factually accommodate multiple endings, which was a callout to the actual game it was based on.

Ultimately, all three different endings, all of which would plausibly work, were filmed during production. Theaters were then sent a copy of the reels containing either ending one, two or three. The marketing goal was to stimulate word of mouth, encourage super fans to go see the film multiple times and boost box office numbers.

That failed miserably, however, when the film was finally released on video and cable television, endings were compiled together and shown one after another rapid fire style. And it became a cult classic for years to come.

That’s the power of divergent thinking. You have to believe that the goal isn’t to get things right, but to get things moving in the right direction.

Right or wrong, good or bad, win or lose, that’s trivial when you compare it to the real goal, which is creating a game that everyone can enjoy.

Think of it this way. Convergent thinking is finite, where the goal is to win; divergent thinking is infinite, where the goal is to keep the game going. 

Are you thinking in a way that leaves room for the inevitable ambiguity and complexity of being human?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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