"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Saturday, January 31, 2009


[Extracted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

Let's take a quick look at how the creative process has evolved over the years.

In a nut shell, the creative process is generally viewed as a logical patterned sequence of steps or stages through which we move on to define, clarify & work on a problem, & then produce a solution to that problem.

Way back to the 1920s, I remember that psychologist Graham Wallas had formally pinned down the process to 4 primary steps or stages, as follows:

1) Preparation - defining the issue, observing & studying;

2) Incubation - laying the issue aside;

3) Illumination - the moment when a new idea finally emerges;

4) Verification - checking it out;

Then, in the 1950s, advertising executive Alex Osborn, who coined "brainstorming", expanded the process to 7 steps or stages:

1) Orientation - pointing out the problem;

2) Preparation - getting pertinent data;

3) Analysis - breaking down the relevant material;

4) Ideation - piling up alternatives by way of ideas;

5) Incubation - letting up, inviting illumination;

6) Synthesis - putting the pieces together;

7) Evaluation - judging resulting ideas;

Towards the early seventies, Alex Osborn apparently teamed up with educator Sidney Parnes to found the Creative Education Foundation, which then systematised the process as follows, which eventually evolved as the well-known CPS process:

1) Objective Finding - identifying goal, wish or challenge;

2) Fact Finding - gathering data;

3) Problem Finding - clarifying problem;

4) Idea Finding - generating ideas;

5) Solution Finding - selecting & strengthening solutions;

6) Acceptance Finding - planning activities;

Since then, I have learned that many creativity researchers as well as creativity consultants have come out with their own variations, but it seems that the basic CPS methodology has always remain intact.

One good example is Min Basadur, who wrote 'Simplex: A Flight to Creativity', among other books. He has outlined his complete methodology under four phases:

1) Generation (of new problems and opportunities);

2) Conceptualization (defining & understanding the challenges, & creating new, potentially useful ideas);

3) Optimization (of practical solutions);

4) Implementation (of the new solutions);even though it still adheres to the principal steps of the original CPS methodology.

The breakdown of steps looks like this:

1) Initial scan - problem finding;

2) Gathering facts - fact finding;

3) Defining problem -problem defining;

4) Generate solutions - idea finding;

5) Evaluate solutions - evaluating & selecting;

6) Plan action - action planning;

7) Gain acceptance - gaining acceptance from stakeholders;

8) Take action - taking action steps;

9) Evaluate action - monitoring progress & evaluating results;

Another example is Paul Plsek, who wrote 'Creativity, Innovation & Quality', with his synthesis model, designated as 'Directed Creativity', comprising also four phases:

1) Preparation:

2) Imagination:

3) Development:

4) Action:

which in turn is broken down into the follow steps as he describes it:

"We live everyday in the same world as everyone else, but creative thinking begins with careful observation of that world coupled with thoughtful analysis of how things work and fail. These mental processes create a store of concepts in our memories. Using this store, we generate novel ideas to meet specific needs by actively searching for associations among concepts. Seeking the balance between satisficing and premature judgment, we then harvest and further enhance our ideas before we subject them to a final, practical evaluation. But, it is not enough just to have creative thoughts; ideas have no value until we put in the work to implement them. Every new idea that is put into practice (that is, every innovation) changes the world we live in, which re-starts the cycle of observation and analysis."

In reality, I have observed that all the subsequent methodologies in use today or in most ongoing creativity training programs still more or less resonate with the original model as conceived by Graham Wallas.

One thing we should all be very clear about is that the creative process begins with deliberate preparation & ends with critical evaluation, prior to planned implementation.

The complete cycle therefore reaffirms that both creative, imaginative & analytical, logical thinking processes are needed.

More importantly, the total creative process requires a drive to action & the implementation of ideas.

We must do more than simply imagine new ideas, we must work consistently to make them concrete realities.

My good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Braindancer, writing in a recent subscription issue of his 'The Braindancer Series' of bookazines, shares his version of the creative sequence, with a little twist:

Step 1: INTAKE

Use Nature's attributes to get started. Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. Observe the workings of Nature, & study the behaviour of plants & animals: they lead to ideas & to breakthrough solutions.


Use Nature's infinite stimuli, think about possibilities. Suspend judgement. Let your mind play with the concepts of making strange familiar, & the familiar, strange.


Having prepared your mind, start generating ideas. Go for quantity; quality will emerge from quantity. Don't analyse or priorities. Just let the dam burst! Capture your ideas in hard copy by writing & drawing.

Step 4: DEBATE

Dialogue & debate your outpourings with colleagues, friends, family & diverse members of society. Agree to disagree, wherever relevant. The divergent outbursts from Step 3 could now converge to help you focus on probabilities.


Sleep on it! Do not hard focus on your ideas. Let your subconscious play with possibilities. Your analysis through debate in the preceding step, will metamorphose into a synthesis for concepts to emerge in fuller form.

Step 6: CREATE

This is where ideas become inventions: the pathway from concept to creation.


Prototype your creations, fine tune them via experimentation, then let them loose in accordance with your well-designed business model!


Rejoice! You have now conquered the challenge of having moved from concept to cash! Innovation is ablaze!

It is pertinent to point out that the first two steps are preparatory steps for the mind to open to new ideas & fresh insights, by making analogies, with Mother Nature as our best teacher!

Here's a lifescape of the creative sequence created by Dilip Mukerjea.

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