CPS Model

Notes from Gary Davis's Creativity is Forever - 1998 Kendall Hunt

The strategy originally was formulated by Alex Osborn (1963), creator of brainstorming, founder of the Creative Education Foundation (CEF) and co-founder of a highly successful New York advertising agency.

Sidney Parnes, a bright and creative person who followed Osborn as President of CEF, invested nearly 40 years teaching creativity workshops and course and thinking about the creative process.

The model is usually presented as five steps, but sometimes a preliminary step is added called mess-finding which involves locating a challenge or problem to which to apply the model.

The total six stages are:

  1. Mess-finding (Objective Finding)
  2. Fact-finding
  3. Problem-Finding
  4. Idea-finding
  5. Solution finding (Idea evaluation)
  6. Acceptance-finding (Idea implementation)
The steps guide the creative process. They tell you what to do at each immediate step in orde to eventually produce one or more creative, workable solutions. A unique feature is that each step first involves a Divergent thinking phase in which one generates lots of ideas (facts, problem definitions, ideas, evaluation criteria, implementation strategies), and then a convergent phase in which only the most promising ideas are selected for further exploration.

The Osborne-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process
Notes from the CPSI 1998 brochure.
Identify Goal, Wish, Challenge Gather Data Clarify the Problem Generate Ideas Select & Strengthen Solutions Plan for Action
What is the goal, wish, or challenge upon which you want to work? What's the situation or background? What are all the facts, questions, data, feelings that are involved What is the problem that really needs to be focuses on? What is the concern that really needs to be addressed? What are all the possible solutions for how to solve the problem? How can you strengthen the solution? WHow can you select the solutions to know which one will work best? What are all the action steps that need to take place in order to implement your solution?

Some suggestions for activities at the various stages:

OF - Use this checklist of questions prepared by Parnes in 1981 to prod your thinking:

FF - Use Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions

PF - Listing alternative definitions of the problem

One principle of creative problem solving is that the definition of a problem will determine th enature of the solutions. In this step it helps to begin each statement with "In what ways might we (or I)...." (IWWMW).

IF - The divergent-thinking, brainstorming stage. This is where a variety of idea-generation ("creativity") techniques can be use. Ideas are freely proposed without criticism or evaluation, for each of the problem definitions accepted in the second stage.

SF - Three related steps:

  1. Criteria for evaluation listed
  2. The ideas are evaluated (evaluation matrix is useful)
  3. One or more of the best ideas are selected
Criteria might include: AF - ways to get the ideas into action.This may involved creating an action plan, which is a plan containing specific step to be taken and a timetable for taking them.
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