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Creative and Design Processes and Their Characteristics


Design and creative processes are interconnected, with the former being a dedicated part of the latter. The creative process stands for the evolution of an idea from a concept to its final form through the progression of thoughts and actions (De Miranda, Aranha, J., & Zardo, 2009). The design process involves the generation of an idea with the purpose of solving a problem by providing a product or a service (Taura & Nagai, 2017). Understanding how the creative process intersects with design methodologies would help increase the performance of product development teams in companies.

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Creative Process Framework

The five iterative stages of the creative process include preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration. The preparation stage includes immersing oneself in the subject and the environment (De Miranda et al., 2009). The incubation stage involves both conscious and subconscious processing of the information to create something new. Insight stands for the Eureka moment that occurs during the creation of the idea. The evaluation stage is the analysis of the generated idea in relation to the problem. Finally, elaboration stands for working and testing the idea against the identified problem (De Miranda et al., 2009). The steps in this framework can follow one another but do not necessarily do due to the chaotic nature of the creative process.

Transition from Creative Process to Design Process

The steps involved in the design process are largely similar to that of a creative process but have more structure to them. Like with creativity, design starts at the preparation stage, which involves immersion in the environment and user experiences (Si & Chen, 2020). That part is followed by the definition stage, during which the designers outline and observe user problems. The ideation stage then generates potential solutions for these problems. Testing and prototyping allow examining the viability of ideas without committing too much to every idea (Si & Chen, 2020). Finally, the implementation stage sees the introduction of a product or service into the market.

While this framework works well for generating ideas within the current product and service line, such as making improvements and addressing issues users have, it does not necessarily allow for radical innovation. The majority of ground-breaking products and services sought not to address a problem or expectation that users had. Instead, they redefined user needs and demands for the product, essentially giving people something they did not know they wanted (Si & Chen, 2020). Generating such ideas in the scope of the restrictive design framework is much more difficult.

The disruptive innovation model of design is much closer to the creativity model described as its steps are iterative and revolve around the generation of ideas that often go against the prescribed notions and traditions found in existing products. This model is riskier and more likely to yield subpar results due to the perceived lack of structure and only a general focus (Si & Chen, 2020). However, the lack of restrictions allows creators to think outside the box and provide counterintuitive solutions to problems that have not been so well-defined to include in a traditional design framework.


The creative process and design process have differences and similarities. Depending on what kind of design project is implemented, more or less structure is required. When a problem is well-defined, and users are well-observed, it is possible to improve on a product or a service within the confines of said framework. Thinking outside the box, however, requires fewer restrictions and greater risk-taking when generating ideas. Therefore, to maximize efficiency in product development teams, it is necessary to give disruptive innovation teams maximum freedom and immersion while offering traditional design teams clear requirements and descriptions of the problems they are supposed to solve.


De Miranda, P. C., Aranha, J. A. S., & Zardo, J. (2009). Creativity: people, environment and culture, the key elements in its understanding and interpretation. Science and Public Policy, 36(7), 523-535.

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Si, S., & Chen, H. (2020). A literature review of disruptive innovation: What it is, how it works and where it goes. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 56, 101568.

Taura, T., & Nagai, Y. (2017). Creativity in Innovation Design: the roles of intuition, synthesis, and hypothesis. International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, 5(3-4), 131-148.

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