The creative process is classically described (Wallas, 1926) as preparation incubation illumination veri cation Businesses often describe the process as research development execution Sometimes the goal is not clear. Participants don’t always agree on how to de ne the problem. Such cases require a new frame, a new generative metaphor (Schön, 1990), or a new articulation ofthe essential question.
a model of
through conversations with experience + values drawing on a repertoire of frames + metaphors
These models suggest a tidy, linear structure beginning middle end Simple sequences sound manageable, even predictable. They promise tasks we can schedule and budget. That makes them appealing to people who run organizations and worry about minimizing uncertaintyand risk. But the creative process resists planning; it’s not a recipe, script, or formula. (How could it be?) In practice, the process is messy, iterative, and recursive. Framed as a sequence, it’s a plan for achieving a goal ready aim re Yet a rst shot doesn’t always hit the target. Achieving a goal may require a few tries; it may require iteration. Iteration is a looping process, using feedbackfrom earlier attempts to converge on a goal. Iteration enables participants to calibrate, correct mistakes, build on accidents, add and remove detail, and improve skills through practice. The creative process is less like a line and more like a loop: observe re ect make observe re ect make The process need not begin with observing; it may begin with any step. Boundaries between the steps are notrigid. Each activity continues throughout the process, e.g., making also involves re ecting and observing. observe re ect make observe re ect make observe re ect make observe re ect make observe re ect make observe re ect make If the goal is clear—if we have agreed on how we de ne a problem, as in a math problem—then solutions may be implied. And we know when to stop. If the goal is less clear,deciding when to stop requires judgment. But some problems are “wicked” (Rittel, 1969). Their de nition depends on point of view; participants can always broaden or deepen their understanding and improve their solutions. For such problems, starting and stopping are arbitrary and external to the process. It ends only when we “run out of time, money, or patience” (energy, will, or gumption). ...Agreeing on goals may require iteration—may involve a feedback loop. Several levels of loops may be nested: - a listing of assumptions and a rst approximation of a solution - a primary process for re ning the solution - a process for agreeing on the goal of the primary process - a process for improving the process of agreeing on the goal This “boot-strapping” process (Engelbart, 1962) is a sign oflearning systems and organizations (Argyis + Schön, 1978). The creative process is not just iterative; it’s also recursive. It plays out “in the large” and “in the small”—in de ning the broadest goals and concepts and re ning the smallest details. It branches like a tree, and each choice has rami cations, which may not be known in advance. Recursion also suggests a procedure that “calls” orincludes itself. Many engineers de ne the design process as a recursive function: discover de ne design develop deploy The creative process involves many conversations—about goals and actions to achieve them—conversations with co-creators and colleagues, conversations with oneself. The participants and their language, experience, and values a ect the conversations. Conversations about wicked problemsespecially bene t from— and may require—a variety of views. Some of these views form a habit of engaging (or observing, re ecting, and making) often called “design thinking.” It might be thought of more accurately as a set of lenses on design conversations or creative conversations. These lenses provide perspective beyond the immediate focus of the conversation or process: - understanding -...