Creative process is defined as a particular journey through creating a new idea. It consists of four commonly agreed phases. (Burns 2011, p.113). In 1926 Graham Wallas - English psychologist and co-founder of London School of Economics pioneered a concept of creative process and its stages. He created The Art of Thought, where he explained an insightful theory of four stages of the creative process. Graham's work was based on empirical observations and reports from inventors and polymaths. Creative process stages:
- Generating knowledge and awareness (PREPARATION)
- Incubation process (INCUBATION)
- Generating ideas (ILLUMINATION)
- Evaluation and implementation (VERIFICATION)
Not all creative activity follows exactly the same stages, but much of it does.
Stages in creative process
Generating knowledge and awareness
This stage includes preparation and gaining information about the issue. It requires researches in internal and external resources. The work is acquiring as much information as possible surrounding the given problem. At this point using skills like paying attention, reasoning, and planning to gather information is needed. In business environment individuals mostly are given formal training and education.
Process of waiting for recovering the brain from gathering information. It takes less intense conscious concentration, during which ideas are maturing and developing (Griffin 2013, p.433). Interestingly, incubation phase often requires sleep. The time of this period is also meant for other activities like jogging or listening to music (Burns 2011, p.114). This process can take weeks, months or even years. The fact is, that you cannot rush this period and it is not really under your control.
A spontaneous breakthrough, when person generates a new understanding of a problem or situation. It may occur suddenly or develop slower. In some resources this stage can be called an insight. It is sometimes described as an "Aha" or "Eureka" moment. The most often it happens during low- level activity like normal day-to-day actions e.g taking a shower. This step takes the smallest time but it is the most important in the creative process.
Evaluation and implementation
The stage determines the validity or truthfulness of the idea. It can include scientific experiments and building prototype. Self-critical and reflection skills are useful to conduct proper evaluation. Before the implementation process of elaboration may be needed, where you adjust your ideas after its evaluation. Implementation is a stage when you put into practice your creative idea.
Ways to boost creative process
- Self-awareness - knowing your motivation and fears will help to contribute for preparation work.
- Openness - openness and diversity is a key for thinking outside-the-box. It will show other perspectives for an idea.
- Avoid idea favoritism - beware of sticking to one idea and idealizing it.
- Take time - creative process needs time and you should not rush it.
- Keep moving on - once you decided on idea and examined it, moving on implementation is also important.
- Amabile Teresa M. (2012) Componential Theory of Creativity.
- Burns Paul (2010), Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Macmillan International.
- Griffin Ricky W. (2013), Management. South-Western CENGAGE Learning.
- Grivas Chris (2012), 5 Ways to Boost Your Creative Power.
- Popova Maria, The Art of Thought: A Pioneering 1926 Model of the Four Stages of Creativity.
- Runco A. Mark, & Jaeger Garret J. (2012) The Standard Definition of Creativity., p. 92-96