A Review of Creative Thinking Models

There are many models proposed in the creativity literature for the process of creative thinking. Arieti (1976) cataloged eight such models that were proposed during the period 1908 to 1964. There have been several additional models proposed since. Analysis of these various models reveals some consistent patterns.

  • The creative process involves purposeful analysis, imaginative idea generation, and critical evaluation — the total creative process is a balance of imagination and analysis.
  • Older models tend to imply that creative ideas result from subconscious processes, largely outside the control of the thinker. Modern models tend to imply purposeful generation of new ideas, under the direct control of the thinker.
  • The total creative process requires a drive to action and the implementation of ideas. We must do more than simply imagine new things, we must work to make them concrete realities.

These insights from a review of the many models of creative thinking should be encouraging to us. Serious business people often have strong skills in practical, scientific, concrete, and analytical thinking. Contrary to popular belief, the modern theory of creativity does not require that we discard these skills. What we do need to do, however, is to supplement these with some new thinking skills to support the generation of novel insights and ideas.
From The Directed Creativity Cycle by Paul E. Plsek.
He has a full review, which I linked to 5 years ago (!), where he explores ‘the various models for creative thinking that have been suggested in the literature over the past 80 years. We will extract common themes from these various models and present a composite model that integrates these themes’. Good stuff.