The Second Stage of The Creative Process, “Find the Gaps!”

The Second Stage of The Creative Process, “Find the Gaps!”

Psychology March 27, 2020 / By Dr. KH Kim
The Second Stage of The Creative Process, “Find the Gaps!”

To become an innovator, you must be prepared to focus on needs identification within your area of interest. In the second stage of the creative process you look beyond what is seen by attending to problem areas, missing, or hidden components. Your curiosity and expertise help you identify your area’s various needs.

Now that you have become familiar with the first stage of the creative process, building expertise or becoming best at what you like to do, you are ready for the second stage. It focuses on identifying the inconsistencies, problems, or gaps you find while gaining expertise in your area of interest. Needs identification allows your curiosity to deepen your expertise. Use curiosity to your advantage to explore and find what is lacking or missing, or a gap in your field. Let’s explore how!

  1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

You can identify problems and needs in your area with awareness of your surroundings. Using your daily experiences to your advantage, practice identifying problems and needs using the following methods:

  • Focus your attention on the unobvious aspects of objects, methods, or processes while examining why these aspects are often overlooked
  • Keep a running list of things that are problematic to you and how to cope with them; be sensitive to their occurrence and discover solutions

Once you start identifying problem areas you often fail to notice, you will find yourself habitually focusing your attention on these overlooked details. Observe how others’ curiosity about problems and annoyances serve as sources of inspiration. For example:

  • George de Mestral was annoyed by the prickly burrs of mountain bushes clinging to his pants. Rather than discarding them after removal, he examined them under a microscope and duplicated their natural hooks and loops to invent Velcro (hook-and-loop closures and attachments allowing temporary connection of two objects)
  • Alexander Fleming was annoyed by the unidentified fungus that grew on the dirty equipment he left in the sink of his laboratory. Rather than cleaning them, he examined its properties, discovering that that it stopped bacterial growth. He later succeeded in developing, Penicillin, the first antibiotic
  • Henri Becquerel mistakenly left a photographic plate in a dark drawer with a uranium rock. It exposed the plate. Rather than getting upset at the wasted plate, his curiosity (with Marie Curie and Pierre Curie) led him to identify the source of the exposure, which he called radioactivity.

2. Look for What Is Missing

While identifying problem areas, you can notice what is missing. When focusing on missing elements, try to identify inconsistencies, missing pieces, and incomplete information. You can start with observations from everyday life, then focus their relation to needs in your area of choice:

  • Recognize, examine, and verify gaps in your knowledge
  • Interpret works of art, poems, or literature with your own thoughts and words, and compare your interpretations to others’ to see similarities and differences
  • Evaluate the difference between what a product claims to accomplish versus what it actually accomplishes

3. Think beyond What You See

Trying to think beyond what you see allows you to identify deeper needs. Practice looking for unmet needs, surprises, niches, unresolved conflicts, gaps, and inefficiencies. You may discover what others may have previously overlooked, furthering your curiosity. Think of patterns and relationships within a big picture to find issues others missed. Many issues are symptoms of deeper or bigger issues, but they would never be identified if someone did not look beneath superficial information. While looking beyond, you should also notice the unnecessary. Removing them eases gap identification.

The second stage of the creative process deepens your expertise in your area of interest while identifying new insights within about your area. As you explore the problems within your field, elements that are missing, hidden, or overlooked should play a role in how to solve problems or needs in the field.

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