A series of ten articles transferred from Dr. Huhn’s earlier blog posts

Some Fundamentals of the Creative Process and the Transfers into Real Life Innovations

Fourth article:

Phase II of the creative process:

The incubation phase

In the fifth article, we now approach the secrets of Phase II of the creative process.

Let's briefly review all four phases:


I. Task description, analysis, initial search for a solution II. Incubation period III. a flash of inspiration, idea, enlightenment IV. implementation, realization

We have dealt very extensively with Phase I for two main reasons:

(1) Is it the part of the process that we can most strongly shape through effective action.

(2) The insight of research and practical experience is that the more thoroughly you devote yourself to the first phase, the higher the chances of success for a viable outcome of the second phase.


And now the critical part of our review is reached:

What exactly happens in the second phase remains largely inaccessible to our conscious insight and, above all, to our conscious action. Metaphorically, this time span is compared with the incubation of bird eggs. A hen's egg is hatched for about 20 days and remains completely unchanged in shape and color. Around the 21st day, the shell bursts open and a small chick makes its way outside. Without having noticed anything from the outside, miraculous developments have taken place inside, and a new life has come into being. The hen has only ensured that the outside temperature remains stable and that the egg has been moved from time to time.  

Ei Inkubationsphase.png

For this phase, people resort to formulations such as: »getting pregnant« with the collected material, »letting mature« the solution »hatching« the solution »letting work in oneself«.

It has proven itself, again and again, to gain distance from the solution efforts after the intensive preparation and to leave the next phase of the work simply to the hidden abilities of the brain (or as the German poet Friedrich Schiller put it »das Schöpferwerk der Seele«). At some point the second phase is completed, the solution is »hatched«, and the third phase suddenly appears with the »flash of inspiration«, the idea, the solution, the »enlightenment«.


Since the duration of this second phase can never be foreseen or planned, numerous creativity techniques and methods have been developed in the age of acceleration since the middle of the 20th century to shorten the incubation phase and to improve the solutions.

(The terms »techniques« and »methods« are used synonymously here in a linguistically very imprecise manner. The methodical and the technical merge fluently and a third word has not yet been found. We are just here in the area of creativity, which sometimes rubs against linguistic exactness. So when reading, don't be bothered by the fact that sometimes we are talking about methods, sometimes about techniques. Actually, it is neither the one nor the other so exactly but rather an art.)


With the exception of the Morphological Grid according to Zwicky, which can be used already in the first phase of the creative process, these methods primarily serve to intensify the activities of the non-verbal hemisphere, to reduce the disturbances through critical activities of the linguistic and above all a better communication between both hemispheres and therefore only really have an effect on the second phase. They cannot replace the thorough preparatory work of the first phase, but this is often overlooked. Thus, when a problem arises, a »brainstorming session« is quickly convened and more or less cheerfully discussed. But this has nothing to do with the actual creativity method of brainstorming, and as a rule, no creative solutions are achieved in this way.

Brainstorming, like most other techniques, has to be used very strictly, otherwise you stay on the level where the problem arose, the »throwing of the ox« doesn't work and according to Watzlawick, who described this in detail in his book »Solutions«, you only aggravate the situation and possibly create more new and more difficult problem situations. However, at least a rough understanding of the processes in the brain can help here.

Read more about creativity and the processes within the brain here.

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