The Six Steps of the Creative Process


There are several different models that represent the creative process. In 1926, Graham Wallas created a model containing four steps: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Verification. While most models share the similar premise that the creative process takes place over a number of steps, not all agree on how many steps it takes, exactly. The Creative Problem Solving Model, developed by Parnes (1992), Isaksen and Trefflinger (1985), proposes the creative process occurs through six steps; the Creative Problem Solving Model is widely taught.

Objective Finding

  • Objective finding, also known as "mess finding," asks the problem solver and creative thinker to identify a goal, wish or challenge he would like to tackle. For example, an unemployed person might list his goal as finding a job.

Fact Finding

  • This step takes investigation and research; step two includes gathering facts, and even recording information like feelings or emotions associated with the objective. A woman looking to publish her novel might investigate her niche market, including publishers and editors who might be interested in her book, while making herself aware of her emotions attached to the process, such as fear she won't be published.

Problem Finding

  • The investigator works to clarify the problem in this step, including pinpointing the real concerns or questions he needs to address. For example, someone failing college might have the objective of raising his grades. To do this, he must focus on the real problem, which may be his lack of study time because of a job and family obligations.

Idea Finding

  • This step asks you to brainstorm ideas and solutions to help resolve or accomplish the objective. Listing all possible solutions, however unlikely, can help develop other ideas. For example, a single mother who has the objective of working from home might create a list of all the possible jobs she can apply for; hours she can work; people who can help her with her resume, applications, and job search, and even childcare options for when she is called in for interviews.

Solution Finding

  • Revising the possible solutions helps strengthen them. The investigator chooses the best solutions and then works to make them more applicable to the objective. A man who decides to apply for a loan for his small business venture might rework the solution to include applying for grant money as well.

Acceptance Finding

  • This step includes developing a plan of action. With a solution in place, the investigator now creates a list of all the action steps necessary in order to accomplish the objective. For example, a woman who wants to improve the relationships in her life makes a list of specific things she can do each day to strengthen friendships, keep in touch with distant relatives, and spend quality time with her loved ones.

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