FIGURE 2-1. How many squares do you see? (Answers on page 413.)

50 • The Creative Training Idea Book-


A well known model for creativity was described by researcher Graham Wallas.5 In his model, Wallas described four key stages or steps through which creativity is accomplished.

Stage 1: Preparation

In the first stage of creativity it is important that you accurately define the problem or issue (e.g., who, what, when, how, why), then gather as much supporting information as possible through research. In addition, you must establish the criteria for verifying that your solution or decision is appropriate and will truly address your needs.

Stage 2: Incubation

As you read in Chapter 1, you must allow your brain time to process information received. This could take minutes, weeks, or years. It can help to get away from the issue or program you are working on and going to do other things. By stepping away from the situation, you allow your brain to compare and contrast alternatives related to needs. This is similar to reading or discussing something prior to going to bed and then reexamining it the next morning. Your subconscious brain will often continue to process throughout the night and you will arrive at a solution once reintroduced to the material the next day.

Stage 3: Illumination

In the third stage of creativity, you actually arrive at that "Ah ha!" point where the pieces fall together in your mind and your creative light bulb goes on. This may occur as a flash or after contemplating the issue as a whole.

To understand this revelation period, think of times when you had been working to solve a problem for days and suddenly in the middle of the night, while taking a shower, or while doing something else, you realize the solution. Your brain had never stopped working on the issue.

To experience the "Ah ha!" feeling, take a few minutes to look at Figure 2-2. Try to figure out what it is you are looking at without looking at the Solution underneath. Was it easy or difficult to see? What made it so? How does this revelation apply to concepts of creative training?

Stage 4: Verification

In the final stage of Wallas' creativity model you actually take steps to determine if the solution or answer in Stage 3 will really meet the criteria set in Stage 1 and will resolve the issue. With a training program, you can often determine this during a delivery rehearsal. If one of your criteria in Stage 1 was selecting an alternative activity to allow participants to practice a skill within a specified time frame, and your practice demonstrated it did, then the need is potentially satisfied.

Although you cannot get inside the heads of your participants and come up with creative ideas for them, you can help ignite their creative spark by using various strategies to encourage participants to think and examine issues and problems from different perspectives. Doing so can often stimulate thoughts in the minds of your learners while encouraging active involvement during training. By teaching and using creative problemsolving techniques such as the Squares activity regularly, you can encourage involvement and participant application of concepts learned while keeping your own mind actively engaged.

Some of the additional common training approaches for teaching creative thinking and finding solutions include the following.

Visual representations of information can be very useful for organizing and arranging key elements of any issue, concept, or item. They are especially helpful in reinforcing learning and increasing memory for visual learners. The introductory page for each chapter of this book shows how simple such a device might be. It replaces what could be a lengthy linear chapter outline. This is important because, as you remember from Chapter 1, the brain does not easily process information presented in a linear fashion.

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