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

Third article:

Phase I of the creative process:

How does the brain create »ox throws« and how can you support it, to find second-order solutions?

From a pragmatic point of view, it is still useful to orientate oneself on the 4 phase model of Wallas, even if these phases cannot necessarily be sharply separated from each other and can also overlap or run side by side.

Practical implementation of the problem-solving process

The four phases of the creative or problem-solving process (according to Wallas):

I.   Task, problem formulation, first ideas, initial solution search

II.  Incubation period

III. Flash of inspiration, idea, enlightenment

IV. Implementation, realization

I.   Task definition, problem formulation, ACTUAL situation/imagined FUTURE situation, analysis, initial solution attempts

The literature is unanimous: 50% of a problem is solved if the desired solution is precisely defined in terms of language. And the sentence (may the author be Edison, may it be Einstein or an unknown other author) still applies: Creativity is 90% transpiration and 10% inspiration. Nothing comes from nothing. You will notice this at the latest when you really work with the worksheets.

But at least you can be sure that you have stimulated your inspiration in the best possible way with a very well structured and highly efficient methodology.

In this phase, it is first of all critical to clarify what has been found out, which problem is to be solved. Only then does it become more important to find out how to achieve what you want, how to solve the problem. Very often, the second step is taken before the first, which can make the whole process skid at the beginning. As keywords for possible activities in this phase are mentioned:

Collection of materials, analytical structuring, recourse to known solutions, use of technical know-how, discussions, logical thinking, Internet research, internal/external databases, a compilation of parameters and various execution options in the morphological box, etc.

A thorough penetration and formulation of the problem takes place. The idea of what is desired becomes clearer. A rough identification of the problem can take place, but it is also very important to establish an emotional connection with the whole topic, if it is not already present from the outset (e.g. according to the motto »necessity makes inventive«).

The work has proven itself best in the first phase in two steps:

A: Analysis of the initial situation (causes and background),

B: Analysis of the desired future TARGET state.

A: ACTUAL analysis:

1: What are the individual elements of the initial situation?

2: What are the relationships between these elements?

3. what causes and developments have led to this situation?

 4. reason or reason for the change? What are the reasons for changing this situation?

B: Future TARGET analysis:

1. What do I actually want? (If you work for others: What does my client actually want? Question: »Which purpose should be achieved?«)

2) What is important to me (for the client)? (Creation of priorities within a possibly extensive detailed goal.)

3.) What benefit should the solution offer to whom?

This 3rd question can replace all other questions in situations that don’t need deeper considerations or when there are strict time limitations or in case of an urgency.

BUT: This key question must, in any case, be answered thoroughly.  

4. What constraints must the solution obey? (Time constraints, financial budget, legal regulations, internal regulations etc.)

 5. What are the consequences of achieving the objectives? (For me, for those involved, for those not involved, for the planet, ecological consequences etc.)

A new, modified task definition can result from this analysis. 

If this is the case, a briefing back to the client is absolutely necessary when solving problems for third parties.

After - and sometimes even during - the analysis phase, the search for solutions begins:

Collection of information, data, facts (objective material) Generation of solutions (subjective material).

This is a very exhausting time, and if you don't make this effort but want to use some creativity techniques already now in Phase I like a magic wand without the preliminary work, you go on a highly unprofessional and in the end not very effective and not at all efficient way.

The only two methods that already make sense in this phase are the »Morphological Grid« and above all »Mind Mapping«. (We come back to the creative techniques in the next article because their application gains importance in the second phase.)

In the first phase, one is usually in a good mood, full of the desire to discover and optimistic about finding a solution. If this is already successful in this first phase, then it is (in Watzlawick's sense) a first-order solution (!).

It is based on existing knowledge, experience, and know-how that has been developed or brought together during this work. In this respect, creativity in the real sense cannot be spoken of here, since nothing really new has been created.

If, however, one gains the impression after some time that no solution has been found, the mood changes at some point. You don't feel up to the challenge anymore, and the problem seems unsolvable, the feeling of self-efficacy disappears, even frustration up to despair can gain the upper hand.

This is a clear sign that the transition is now to the second phase, in which the new is »hatched« in the truest sense of the word. The mental and emotional processes that then take place remain essentially hidden from us, and so we need a lot of »frustration tolerance« (as psychology calls it) in order to get through this rather gloomy and sometimes even depressive time. But also for this »incubation phase«, there are possibilities of shaping and also to gain a certain influence.

Only now is the hour of creativity techniques and methods dawning. More about this in the next article.

Read more in part 4 of the series of articles on creativity:

Phase II of the creative process:

The incubation phase