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32 Examples of the Creative Process

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Creativity is the ability to transcend obvious, static or repetitive thinking to come up with new ideas. This can apply to any area of human thought including strategy, value creation, decision making, problem solving, artistic pursuits and social interaction. The following are common examples of the creative process.

Problem Statements

Carefully crafting your problem statement and then revisiting it and changing it if required. Different framing of the same problem tends to lead to dramatically different solutions.

Preserving Ambiguity

Being careful not to adopt assumptions too early whereby you may sacrifice open creativity in favor of familiarity and certainty.

Thought Experiment

Developing hypothetical situations that are intuitive and analogous to far more complex problems. A means of simplifying the very complex.

First Principles

Working from first principles -- foundational rules with broad explanatory power that you hold to be true.

Analogical Reasoning

Using analogies to reframe problems, solutions or concepts.


Freely offering ideas without constraint or validation.

Reverse Brainstorming

Brainstorming all the ways an idea or plan could fail.

Free Writing

Brainstorming in full sentence and paragraph form for some time without stopping.


A tradition of collaboratively composing a story, song or creative work in an additive way without ever rejecting or validating the ideas of others. This typically goes off on a wild tangent and is used to break teams out of static modes of thinking.


Acting out parts e.g. customers with different motivations.

Mind Mapping

Drawing your ideas about a topic as a tree of concepts.

Motley Crew Principle

The observation that creative efforts such as a movie production benefit from the contributions of people with diverse backgrounds, ways of thinking and experiences.


A charrette is an intensive and potentially long period of group work in a room together until something is completed. This extends from design traditions for delivering assignments and projects.

Creative Tension

Creative tension a culture that sacrifices group harmony for the purposes of creativity. For example, strongly arguing as a group as opposed to being positive all the time.

Creative Direction

Granting a person creative control who has demonstrated a talent for delivering creative results. It is rare for group decisions to be creative as they reflect the social compromises of a group.


Writing down every idea you have in case you want to go back to it. A very common technique in creative industries such as music whereby song writers commonly keep a journal.

Creativity of Constraints

Where assumptions tend to be the enemy of creativity, constraints can be productive where they force you to be ambitious. For example, a low budget that forces a team to find a simple and direct solution to a problem.

Perspective Switching

Looking at things from different perspectives such as marketing, operational, customer, regulator and competitor views of the same strategy.

Cognitive Switching

Using different modes of thinking such as logical, emotional and traditional thinking to view a problem in different ways.

Design Thinking

Solving problems by designing things.

Systems Thinking

Trying to consider the entire impact of things including unintended consequences of change to complex systems.

Empathy Training

Training that puts you in the shoes of someone else to try to understand how things are for them. Often designed to break static thinking and assumptions.

Creative Intuition

The observation that ideas appear to simply pop into your mind after a long period of thinking about a problem. This calls for taking your time and letting your mind work on a problem for a while.

Creative Idealism

Idealism is the theory that ideas shape reality and not the other way around. This can be a useful way to think when generating ideas.

Defensive Pessimism

Using idealism and optimism to generate ideas and pessimism to challenge them.


Designing and conducting carefully controlled tests to validate ideas and discover new knowledge.

Root Cause Analysis

Examining cause and effect to distinguish between symptoms and the root cause of a problem.

5 Whys

Asking why five times in succession to dig deeper into a concept or issue.

Challenging Assumptions

The process of identifying and challenging assumptions including your own.

Assumption Reversal

Write down all your assumptions including those that feel obvious and unshakable then reverse each assumption to examine the impact.

SWOT Analysis

Listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A popular way to examine your current strategic position.

Sanity Check

Challenging your decisions, strategies and plans with the question -- does this make any sense whatsoever?
Next: Creative Problem Solving
More about creativity:
Creative Ability
Creative Class
Creative Direction
Creative Economy
Creative Expression
Creative Feedback
Creative Hobbies
Creative Industries
Creative Intuition
Creative Leadership
Creative Process
Creative Productivity
Creative Quality
Creative Spark
Creative Tension
Creative Things
Creative Thinking
Creative Value
Creative Works
Creativity Theory
Divergent Thinking
Idea Generation
Intellectual Diversity
Inventive Step
Magical Thinking
Metaphysical Conceit
Motley Crew
Preserving Ambiguity
Reverse Brainstorming
Thought Experiment
Work Creativity
More ...
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Creative Tension

A definition of creative tension with examples.

Creative Thinking

A list of common creative thinking techniques.

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The definition of creative value with examples.

Creativity Examples

A list of creative pursuits.

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A definition of intellectual diversity with examples.

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