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Osborn: Creative Problem-Solving Process

Alex Osborn is the “O” in the agency BBDO. In 1953, he wrote a book titled “Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem-Solving.” He was one of the first – if not the first – to write about the practical application of brainstorming and creative problem-solving (CPS). Here is how he outlines the CPS process…

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The creative problem-solving process ideally comprises these procedures: (1) Fact-finding. (2) Idea-finding. (3) Solution-finding.

Fact-finding calls for problem-definition and preparation. Problem-definition calls for picking out and pointing up the problem. Preparation calls for gathering and analyzing the pertinent data.

Idea-finding calls for idea-production and idea-development. Idea production calls for thinking up tentative ideas as possible leads. Idea-development calls for selecting the most likely of the resultant ideas, adding others, and reprocessing all of these by such means as modification and combination.

Solution-finding calls for evaluation and adoption. Evaluation calls for verifying the tentative solutions, by tests and otherwise. Adoption calls for deciding on, and implementing, the final solution.

Regardless of sequence, every one of those steps calls for deliberate effort and creative imagination.

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