Four stages of creative thinking

DSM Digital School of Marketing - creative thinking

Creative thinking is a controlled process in which the creative thinker – whether artist, writer or a scientist – attempts to create something new. It includes characteristics of both reasoning and imagination. Creative thinking is a process whereby the individual produces genuine, unusual and productive solution to a problem.

The process of creative thinking is defined as personal as well as imaginative thinking which produces a new, novel and useful solution. Unlike standard solutions to problems, creative solutions are new as other people haven’t thought of them before.

The product of creative thinking

The product of creative thinking maybe a unique, new way of visualising the world around us. The emphasis in creative thinking centres on the word ‘new’. In human beings, there are two kinds of productive abilities: convergent as well as divergent abilities.

  • Convergent abilities are utilised to bring together otherwise divergent things.
  • Divergent production abilities are those capabilities which are not guided by rules or conventions. However, these abilities are capable of generating novel solutions to a problem. Divergent production abilities are specifically important in creative thinking.

What are the four stages of creative thinking?

  1. Preparation

In this stage, the thinker articulates the problem and collects the facts as well as materials considered necessary for uncovering new solutions. Many times, the challenge cannot be solved even after days, weeks or months of focused efforts. Failing to address the problem, the thinker turns away from it, to initiate the next stage.

  1. Incubation

During this period a number of the ideas that were disturbing the solution will tend to fade. The overt activity, as well as sometimes even thinking about the problem, are absent in this stage. However, the unconscious thought process which are involved in creative thinking is at work during this period. The thinker will appear to be busy with other activities  – such as reading literature or playing games – but the contemplation about finding a solution to the problem will be going on in his/her mind.

  1. Illumination

Subsequent to the period of incubation, the creative ideas occur suddenly. Consequently, the obscure thing becomes clear. This sudden flash of the solution is known as illumination and is like an ‘aha’ (eureka) experience.

  1. Verification

Though the solution is to be found in the illumination stage, it is necessary to verify if that solution is correct or not. Hence, in this last stage assessment of the solution is done. If the solution is unsatisfactory, the thinker will go back to the creative process from the beginning. If it is satisfactory, it will be accepted and, if necessary, minor modifications may also be made to the solution.

There is a shared concept of left-brain and right-brain. The common sentiment is that these two part of the brain control logical thinking and creative thinking respectively. However, it turns out that a lot more than two parts are at work in the creative brain.In addition,  we develop creative ideas by a more sophisticated process.

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