The Osborne-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process


CPS Model

Notes from Gary Davis’s Creativity is Forever – 1998 Kendall Hunt

The strategy originally was formulated by Alex Osborn (1963), creator of brainstorming, founder of the Creative Education Foundation (CEF) and co-founder of a highly successful New York advertising agency.

Sidney Parnes, a bright and creative person who followed Osborn as President of CEF, invested nearly 40 years teaching creativity workshops and course and thinking about the creative process.

The model is usually presented as five steps, but sometimes a preliminary step is added called mess-finding which involves locating a challenge or problem to which to apply the model.

The total six stages are:

  1. Mess-finding (Objective Finding)
  2. Fact-finding
  3. Problem-Finding
  4. Idea-finding
  5. Solution finding (Idea evaluation)
  6. Acceptance-finding (Idea implementation)

The steps guide the creative process. They tell you what to do at each immediate step in orde to eventually produce one or more creative, workable solutions. A unique feature is that each step first involves aDivergent thinking phase in which one generates lots of ideas (facts, problem definitions, ideas, evaluation criteria, implementation strategies), and then a convergent phase in which only the most promising ideas are selected for further exploration.


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