Rethinking Design Thinking: Applying the Four Ps of Creativity

By Paul T. Skaggs.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: January 27, 2016 $US5.00

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, one, that design thinking principles and methods could not be divorced from the design thinker and, two, 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 Four Ps of creativity. These Four Ps 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 look at the Four Ps of creativity to and apply the Four Ps to design thinking we would have a more accurate model of design thinking. This paper attempts to reframe the Four Ps 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 Four Ps is that, for the purposes of discussion, person, process, press and product are separated, but it is recognized that in practice the Four Ps are involvedly interconnected.

Keywords: Design Thinking, Creative Process, Creative People, Creative Environments, Creative Constraints, Creative Confidence, Creative Character Traits

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 10, Issue 2, June, 2016, pp.9-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: January 27, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 543.676KB)).

Paul T. Skaggs

Program Chair, School of Technology in the College of Engineering, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA