A Simple Process for Creativity

Follow this 4-step process.

© iStockphoto/3dbrained

DO IT is a process for creativity.

Techniques outlined earlier in this chapter focus on specific aspects of creative thinking. DO IT bundles them together, and introduces formal methods of problem definition and evaluation.

These help you to get the best out of the creativity techniques.

DO IT is an acronym that stands for:

D – Define problem.
O – Open mind and apply creative techniques.
I – Identify best solution.
T – Transform.

These stages are explained in more detail below:

1. Define Problem

This section concentrates on analyzing the problem to ensure that the correct question is being asked. The following steps will help you to do this:

  • Check that you are tackling the problem, not the symptoms of the problem. To do this, ask yourself why the problem exists repeatedly until you get to the root of it.
  • Lay out the bounds of the problem. Work out the objectives that you must achieve and the constraints that you are operating under.
  • Where a problem appears to be very large, break it down into smaller parts. Keep on going until each part is achievable in its own right, or needs a precisely defined area of research to be carried out. See Drill Down for a detailed description of this process.
  • Summarize the problem in as concise a form as possible. Robert W Olsen suggests that the best way to do this is to write down several of two-word problem statements and choose the best one.

2. Open Mind and Apply Creative Techniques

Once you know the problem that you want to solve, you are ready to start generating possible solutions. It is very tempting just to accept the first good idea that you come across. If you do this, you will miss many even better solutions.

At this stage of DO IT we are not interested in evaluating ideas. Instead, we are trying to generate as many different ideas as possible. Even bad ideas may be the seeds of good ones.

You can use the whole battery of creativity techniques covered earlier in this section to search for possible solutions. Each tool has its particular strengths and benefits, depending on the problems that you want to solve. While you are generating solutions, remember that other people will have different perspectives on the problem, and it will almost certainly be worth asking for the opinions of your colleagues as part of this process.

3. Identify the Best Solution

Only at this stage do you select the best of the ideas you have generated. It may be that the best idea is obvious. Alternatively, it may be worth examining and developing a number of ideas in detail before you select one.

The Decision Making Techniques section of Mind Tools explains a range of excellent decision making techniques. Decision Tree Analysis   and Force Field Analysis   are particularly useful. These will help you to choose between the solutions available to you.

When you are selecting a solution, keep in mind your own or your organization's goals  . Often Decision Making becomes easy once you know these.

4. Transform

Having identified the problem and created a solution to it, the final stage is to implement this solution. This involves not only development of a reliable product from your idea, but all the marketing and business side as well. This may take a great deal of time and energy.

Many very creative people fail at this stage. They will have fun creating new products and services that may be years ahead of what is available on the market. They will then fail to develop them, and watch someone else make a fortune out of the idea several years later.

The first stage in transforming an idea is to develop an Action Plan   for the transformation. This may lead to creation of a Business or Marketing Plan. Once you have done this, the work of implementation begins!

DO IT was devised by Robert W Olsen in his book 'The Art of Creative Thinking'.

Key Points

DO IT is a structured process for creativity. Using DO IT ensures that you carry out the essential groundwork that helps you to get the most out of creativity tools.

These steps are:

  1. Problem Definition: During this stage you apply a number of techniques to ensure that you are asking the right question.
  2. Open Mind: Here you apply creativity techniques to generate as many answers as possible to the question you are asking. At this stage you are not evaluating the answers.
  3. Identify the best solution: Only at this stage do you select the best solutions from the ones you came up with in step 2. Where you are having difficulty in selecting ideas, use formal techniques to help.
  4. Transform: The final stage is to make an Action Plan for the implementation of the solution, and to carry it out. Without implementation, your creativity is sterile.

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