Recently I’ve been interested in the creative process, along my research I came across the work of Graham Wallas, a sociologist, psychologist and educator. Graham produced a staged model for creative insight and illumination.
Today, I want to focus on these stages because it resonates with my thinking. He explains that this process is driven by the following 5 stages:
(i)Preparation: preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual’s mind on the problem and explores the problem’s dimensions.
(ii)Incubation: where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening.
(iii)Intimation: the creative person gets a ‘feeling’ that a solution is on its way.
(iv)Illumination or insight: where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness.
(v)Verification: where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated and then applied.
Wallas takes it further by explaining, “Creativity is a evolutionary process, which allows humans to quickly adapt to changing environments.”
From Wallas to the Business World:
These 5-stages popped into my mind today when a friend of mine was telling me about how he started an online business, but felt that his idea was not going anywhere.
He went on explaining, “I came up with this really cool idea, but it just doesn’t seem to be getting traction”
“I always come up with these cool ideas, but they never work, I guess I’m just going to have to move on to the next one” – He explains with disappointment.
To me, my friend is a lot like most people, they think that the idea is everything and that creativity is about ideas popping into their minds. They bounce around from idea to idea, hoping that one will take off into the night and millions of dollars will follow. In actuality they don’t realize that creativity and business is really about systems and processes.
Business & Creativity:
For an idea to succeed in business, one has to shake off this notion that its all about the idea. Everyone has ideas, few are good, and most are bad. There is a necessary process to resolving a problem or testing an idea in business.
Using the 5-Stage Model, I want to integrate my business perspective in this creative process.
Preparation: (Actually know what the problem is, and immerse yourself in the subject)
Most people will come up with an idea that they know nothing about or have not tested. (i.e. Single college student who tries to innovate a baby stroller, when they don’t have children or have not tested their idea) Make sure you have a knowledge advantage in any field or business you enter, without this you don’t have an edge.
Incubation: (Internalize the problem in your subconscious)
In order for a problem or idea to be internalized, you have to be quite obsessed or consumed by the field. My suggestion would be to enter a career or business you enjoy, versus something you assume is lucrative. If you’re having issues figuring out what interests you, get a time log and see how you spend your day.
Intimation: (Having a feeling that a solution is coming)
In business you should have faith that a solution will come, but it’s silly to just hope. I think you should have a feeling that a solution will come, but it should be based off your relentless hard work and drive and not just an intuition.
Illumination or insight: (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness)
To me, this stage is the most common. When most people have an idea they say, “I got this really cool idea” and they assume that it works like a lottery system, all they have to do is hit the right idea and instant recognition followed by riches will be the end result. The only problem is that when a obstacle with the idea inevitably occurs, they think it’s the wrong idea and they move on to the next one. In reality, the idea is not necessary wrong; the process is just not being executed.
Verification: (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated and then applied)
This stage is my favourite because it is centered on reality based execution. You have to go through a process with your ideas; educate yourself in the field, talk to experts, and test your idea in real time. The smart strategy to materializing your idea or product is by testing and verifying. Basically you are taking what you have created and seeing if it matches what the market place wants. If the feedback is negative, than this is an opportunity for you to tweak, fix and optimize the problem for another test. Today, if you look at most ideas or products, their prototypes or original stages looked very little like the final product; this is because they went through a necessary process of verifying.
Creativity and business is a science and an art, and by focusing on the reality-based process you can hone your skills in both fields. According to Wallas “Creativity allows humans to quickly adapt to changing environments”, this is very relevant to the current business market, and for those who want to flourish should focus on innovating and creating.