The 4 ps of Creativity

I’ve written repeatedly and at length about how people seem stuck on mistaking Creativity for Art. One of the key reasons that I haven’t discussed as yet, is the 4 P’s view on Creativity.

The 4P’s provide a model of creativity: a framework in which it is easier to understand what goes on when people are creative. It is the work of Mel Rhodes and serves as a reminder of how Creativity is very hard to define and isolate… which is precisely why our societal misuse of the word is so problematic.

After many years of research Mel ended up describing Creativity by developing the 4 Ps:
Person, Product, Process, Press.

Each element is a characteristic part of the whole of creativity and cannot be separated from the others. And yet, each part represents one or other commonly held view of what creativity is.

Let’s explore the Ps in detail:

  1. Person:
    To understand creativity, we must also understand what makes People creative: what are their characteristics, their habits, the thoughts.
  2. Product
    These are the ‘things’ that are the result of creative activity. What makes one product creative (a song) and another not? How many products can we say are the result of creativity?
  3. Process
    The process is all about HOW people are creative do what they DO. But Processes can also be Products… new ways of doing old tasks
  4. Press
    Mel defines the press as the environment around the creative person and recognises that, if the climate around a person is not conducive to creativity, it soon dies.

By focussing exclusively on one type of creative product (art) we exclude other types of people from being classed as Creative. We also limit our ability to think creatively about other areas. And because art is often shrouded in mystery and myth, we hide the processes that could be learned and adapted.

Lastly, by accepting the myths and mysteries of Art as a model for creativity, we fail to understand what is required to support and nurture creativity… both for artists and other creative types… we don’t know how to support, them, what learning or help they need or how to optimise their output. In short, we condemn it to the realm of magic and other unbelievable things.

Next time you hear someone saying, ‘But I am not creative!’ ask yourself: what product are they referring to? What process could they learn to become creative? Maybe they are a creative person, but they are just in the wrong environment.

And if you want to create businesses or schools where Creativity flourishes, you need to consider all 4 Ps in your planning and structuring… to leave one out condemns the rest to failure.