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Developing Creativity: Product, People, Process and Press

These four P’s of Product, People, Process and environmental Press have been used as frameworks by many creativity researchers and writers.

In a helpful overview article, Sandeep Gautam provides explanations of these concepts, and references to various creativity experts. Here are a few excerpts.

First, to start with the illustration: “Blind monks examining an elephant”, an ukiyo-e print by Hanabusa Itchō (1652–1724).

The story that inspired this artwork is basically that “a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.” [Wikipedia]

Gautam concludes his article:

“In the end, it is important to realize that creativity is all things to all people, but still needs desperately, and would benefit from immensely, an integrative research paradigm; otherwise like the proverbial blind men and the elephant, we may end up getting narrow and useless conceptions of creativity and ignore the big elephant in the room.”

Product :

What makes something creative [is that] it should be ‘surprising, original, beautiful and useful’. I am gladdened to note, that again there is precedence, in people coming up with similar definitions. For ‘Novel + Useful’, there seems to be a universal consensus…

He quotes as an example Margaret Boden, from her book The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms”: “Creativity is the ability to come up with ideas or artefacts that are new, surprising and valuable.”

Gautam adds,

Mark [Batey] doesn’t elaborate, but it’s clear that he agrees, that while utility may be one criterion by which surprise in science can be judged; we require a different criterion of aesthetics or beauty while judging the originality of a work of art.

Thus to reiterate, Creativity (of Products) = surprise + originality + utility + beauty.

Process :

The middle C creativity, or the study of normal creatives and how they create on a daily basis, shed light on the creative Process.

Keith Sawyer, for e.g., in his study of Jazz musicians, was able to come up with the processes of improvisation, collaboration and communication that underlay their creativity. On a different level, Margaret Boden (same book) has come up with processes like recombination, re-conceptualization/ transformations of conceptual spaces etc as processes involved in creativity.

R. Keith Sawyer is author of Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation.

Also see post: Creative Inspiration – R. Keith Sawyer on Myths of Creativity.

People :

Coming to big C creativity, here the focus is squarely on People and what makes some people eminent or genius or more creative than the rest of us. …

We need a list of factors that creative people have in common and then look at the direction of causality – does being creative lead to the liberty to be an a**hole or being an a**hole is necessary for creativity.

I have my own ideas on what factors are necessary for Genius:

1.       Ability (intelligence, Divergent thinking)

2.       Self-control , hard work

3.       Grit, drive to succeed/ create

4.       Right (growth/ creativity/ openness to experience) mindset

Press :

Teresa Amabile, amongst others, has studied the conditions conducive/ prohibitive for creativity, a lot. Some of her research paradigm focuses on the effect of environments on middle c normal creative types or little c everyday creative persons- like the employees and managers in an organisation.

Read the much longer article: The Four P’s of Creativity, By Sandeep Gautam, The Creativity Post, Sep 30, 2012.

Teresa M. Amabile, Ph.D. is a Harvard Business School creativity researcher and author of Growing Up Creative: Nurturing a Lifetime of Creativity.

Read some quotes of Amabile in my post Developing Creativity: Creating From Childhood.


Developing Creativity: Product, People, Process and Press

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). Developing Creativity: Product, People, Process and Press. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Dec 2012
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