Be creative ... but, follow these rules?

Creativity is a crucial element of any IMC function, but is creative success most expected when some organized approach is followed? While most advertising society reject and/or resist attempts to standardize creativity or develop rules or guidelines to follow, most creative people do follow some type of process when approaching the assignment of developing an advertisement.There are several models or approaches to the creative process, including that of English sociologist Graham Wallas whose famous model of thought contains four stages of creative thinking:
  1. Preparation - an individual assesses his desire, creatively using appropriate tools from the appropriate field of study
  2. Incubation - an individual disengages from the creative process; Wallas believed that detachment from the creative objective, "taking a break," stimulates thought
  3. Illumination - the discovery of the idea; according to Wallas, illumination is characterized by the sudden realization of the idea—"Eureka!"
  4. Verification - the successful application of the idea

Do you agree with the notion that creativity can or should follow a fefinitive process?
In one part of Lewis Carroll’s book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” he says of Alice, “It sounded like an excellent plan, no doubt, and very neatly and simply arranged; the only difficulty was that she had not the smallest idea how to set about it.”

While I do think that Wallace’s plan could certainly be leveraged in a creative campaign, I cannot help but wonder if following a carefully aligned plan would ultimately create barriers to creative thinking. For example, if an individual (especially someone who is not particularly familiar with Wallas’ plan) is assigned to generate creative ideas do you think that they may be so concerned about adhering exactly to the plan that their ability to think of new and creative ideas is inhibited? They may be so concerned about following a step-by-step process that they do not freely allow their minds to roam.

And, like Lewis said, the plan sounds great, but if an individual obsesses about how to execute it, they will not get too far in the creative process.

Sure, I think that creative and analytical thinking successfully does and can work hand-in-hand at times, but I don’t agree that it is always the case. Sometimes analytical thinkers are so concerned with what happened in the past or what the statistics state that they have a hard time allowing themselves to take a risk. And, they may not expect surprises in step four like a creative thinker would. This all ties back to what I mentioned above … Would an analytical thinker be so adamant about sticking to the plan that he or she loses sight of their goal to create new, exciting, and creative ideas?

Creative ideas can come to us at anytime, anywhere. So while I do think that there are some plans out there, including Wallace’s, that can compliment the creative thinking process for some individuals or groups, I do not think that they are always necessary.

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