This post gives an overview about the 1st chapter of the Book “Idea Work”. As some of you know, I am a big fan of the creative design process of Snohetta, the Norwegian design firm. That’s why I am enjoying to share with all of you an extract of some chapters.
INTERWOVEN topic is divided in two blocks: Prepping and Zooming. I will talk about Prepping, as the first step in the evolution of a Creative Idea.

PREP.PING: The practice of carefully preparing, building and revitalizing knowledge in a way that maximizes its potential for effective use in the moment of creation.
Prepping is about getting the right knowledge ready for combination at the right time, at the time of association. One way of viewing prepping is to think of a collective field of immediate, vivid attention that needs to be charged with necessary input, as opposed to fragmented and disjointed bits of information and experiences. Most of what we know will not need to be applicable for a particular idea. We know through knowing, not knowledge – whether it is stored in a database, file, or book – it is only in the moment of knowledge’s being known, that is, when enacted knowledge, that it has purpose. Otherwise it is useless.

When building and activating the facts of prepping, when charging the field, knowing that occurs in the moment of creative interaction, most often within a group of people; thus, enhancing the range of associations of possible raw material is vital. Hence, we need to have knowledge available in ways that enable access to “the final moment of association”.

Every creative firm should have an “Uncle Sam”, generally a person with wide experience, who can guide the work idea. He works as a living reminder of the value of prepping, but he is also a repository of knowing. Uncle Sam puts people on the right track.

Graham Wallas, frequently credited as the grandfather of creativity research, distinguished four stages in the creative process: Preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.
In Wallas’ framework, the preparation stage is wide and deep, it is a combination of “the whole process of intellectual education” and active decision of the creative person to “put his mind on” to a chosen subject… The educated man has also acquired, by the effort of observation and memorizing, a body of remembered facts and words which gives him a wider range in the final moment of association”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the forefather of pragmatism said: “The greatest genius is the most indebted man”. Which is an open invitation to research into other creative people’s projects. The combination of ideas and facts that come from prepping always implies borrowing things from elsewhere, internally and externally. Sometimes such borrowing and incubation can take almost a lifetime.