A History in Creative Problem Solving

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2017
9 Pages, Grade: 4.0



The original work of Alex Osborn making the creative process more explicit, and the following 50 years of research and development on creative problem solving, have made an important and wide-spread contribution to those interested in the deliberate development of creative talent. This paper provides a brief summary of the versions of creative problem solving and the key scholars who contributed the CPS history and findings of problems we face as mankind learns to find helpful solutions.

The original work of Alex Osborn making the creative process more explicit, and the following 50 years of research and development on creative problem solving, have made an important and wide-spread contribution to those interested in the deliberate development of creative talent. Over the course of the past fifty years, many researchers and developers presented a variety of different creative problem solving models and approaches. Work on these presentations has taken place in many different settings, including colleges and universities, public elementary and secondary schools, small and large businesses, and numerous consulting organizations. In the literature of psychology, sociology, education, or training and organizational development, the common phrase, creative problem solving, has been used to describe many models, which may or may not have any common origins or structure. This paper surveys the history of CPS from a common foundation, and over several decades, linkages. I refer to that body did not attempt a comprehensive review of all the modifications, adaptations, or publications within the broad area of CPS;

Furthermore foundational literature and developed their own approaches, not professionally linked with our group in any formal roles (Basadur, Graen, & Green, 1982; VanGundy, 1988). My goals are to clarify and summarize the course we have charted within this foundation, to help others understand the history, and to help guide future research, development and application.

I begin with a brief history of the research, development, and field experience that led us to our current version of the CPS framework, its description, and its graphic representation. By providing an historical perspective, and interested in practice, research, and theory better understand the long term development of CPS. This paper will also help readers to distinguish a framework based on substantial research and theory, such as CPS, from an ever-expanding array of supposedly “new” methods and models that spring up as if by magic.

These seem to multiply prolifically in the popular literature and their developers often seem unconcerned with issues of long-term, sustained, research and development. Previous reviews of the development of CPS models (Isaksen & Dorval, 1993; Isaksen, Treffinger, Dorval, 1997; Treffinger, 2000) focused on presenting various graphic presentations of the model over time, with only brief descriptions of the rationale and research for their development. By contrast, History focuses on the research issues that provided the impetus for the new developments and summarizes the modifications that was made over several years. In this paper I identify the versions of CPS in a way that is familiar to computer software users: a decimal numeral indicates the version number. The digit to the left of the decimal indicates the major stage or era of development, and digits to the right of the decimal represent refinements or developments within a stage, rather than a new stage or level of development.

Like any software package, CPS has undergone both fundamental, structural changes and continuous updating or refinement within each of its historical forms; in a sense, CPS is “software for the mind” The need for an initial model of explicit or defined Creative Problem creative process Solving and preliminary guidelines and tools for generating ideas. Early interest in the creative process examined the natural approaches taken by highly creative people in applying their personal creativity when solving problems (Crawford, 1937; Spearman, 1931; Wallas, 1926). The effort to make creative processes more visible, explicit, and deliberate was a formidable challenge for researchers for many years.

Alex Osborn, a founding partner of the Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn advertising agency and founder of the Creative Education Foundation, developed the original description of CPS. In his book, Wake up your mind, Osborn (1952) presented a comprehensive description of a seven-stage CPS process. This process description was based on his work in the advertising field, dealing with the natural tension between people on the more creative side and those on the business side, client managers, and business managers to develop successful campaigns and meet customers’ needs. Osborn’s Applied Imagination (1953, 1957) popularized his description of CPS and the term brainstorming now arguably the most widely known, used term associated with creativity.

Alex Osborn’s Seven Stages Model

Osborn continued to study creativity and to apply his process strategies and techniques in both his advertising work and his teaching. In the revised edition of Applied Imagination Osborn (1963) condensed his original seven stages into three more comprehensive stages, fact-finding, idea-finding, and solution-finding. In making the creative process more deliberate and explicit, Osborn integrated what was known at the time about the stages and tools used by highly creative individuals, based on his study and experience in the practical world. Osborn’s interest emphasized the deliberate development of creative talent, particularly within the field of education. He expressed the vision of bringing a more creative trend to American education, which became the impetus for founding the Creative Education Foundation and, subsequently, for the development of an academic program in Buffalo. In pursuing his vision, Osborn (1965) worked with Sidney Parnes toward the goal of enhancing students’ ability to understand and apply their personal creativity in all aspects of their lives. After Osborn’s death in 1966,

Parnes and his colleagues continued to work with CPS. They developed a modification of Osborn’s approach, which we describe as (Parnes, 1967), which came to be known as the “Osborn Parnes approach to creative problem solving.” The framework was eclectic, drawing tools and methods from several other creativity and problem-solving models and methods. Some of the earliest studies conducted by Parnes and his associates evaluated the effects of creative problem solving programs and methods (Meadow & Parnes, 1959; Meadow, Parnes & Reese, 1959; Parnes, 1961, 1963, 1964; Parnes & Meadow, 1959, 1960). This five-stage revision of Osborn’s original framework was tested experimentally in programmed instructional format with secondary school students (Parnes, 1966).CPS was also tested in an extensive, two-year experimental program called the Creative Studies Project at Buffalo State College including a four semester series of creative studies courses. The experimental project followed 150 students in the courses and 150 students as a control group, and provided empirical support for the courses’ effectiveness (Noller & Parnes, 1972; Parnes & Noller, 1972 Parnes & Noller, 1973; Parnes, 1987; Reese, Treffinger, Parnes).


Excerpt out of 9 pages


A History in Creative Problem Solving
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
457 KB
history, creative, problem, solving
Quote paper
Eugene Ravenell (Author), 2017, A History in Creative Problem Solving, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/428483


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: A History in Creative Problem Solving

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free