Exchange the 4Ps of Creativity

Paul Skaggs
College of Engineering and Technology Brigham Young University

Paul Skaggs
Program Chair, ID
College of Engineering and Technology
Brigham Young University

Design thinking was called a failed experiment and design thinking was declared dead. Design thinking was introduced as a prototype and like most prototypes testing it exposed weaknesses.  Two weaknesses that were revealed early in the design thinking experiment were 1) that design thinking principles and methods could not be divorced from the design thinker and 2) that design thinking could not survive and thrive in any domain.  Mel Rhodes attempted to define the word creativity and after reviewing over forty definitions of creativity he was unsatisfied.  What he did find were themes that overlapped and intertwined together. In 1961 he published an article titled, “An Analysis of Creativity”, he defined the 4P’s of creativity.  These 4P’s are: Person: understanding the traits, characteristics or attributes of the creative person; Process: describing the operations or stages of thinking used in the creative process; Press: examining the nature of situations and its context within the creative press (or environment) and the Product: identifying outcomes and qualities of creative products. Mel Rhodes made an important contribution, a framework and way to think about, talk about, and understand creativity.  If we exchange his 4P’s for creativity to the 4P’s of design thinking we would have a more accurate model.  This paper attempts to reframe the 4P’s of creativity through the lens of design thinking, talking about creativity as understood as an aspect of design thinking, but also creativity as it relates to the design practitioner and the designers domain. Important to the idea of the 4P’s is that, for the purposes of discussion, person, process, press and product are separated, but it is recognized that in practice the 4P's are involvedly interconnected.