Do you consider yourself creative?  Do you save that description for Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Rockwell or the colleague who seems to have all the ideas?  Many people think if their work is not hanging in a museum, changing the world we live in or discovering new things, then they are not creative— as though creativity is just for a few very talented and gifted among us while the rest of us poor souls are not able to enter the creative world.  Herrmann would disagree and tell you he sees the potential for creativity within all of us and that creativity lives within all four quadrants of the brain.  He has three beliefs about creativity:

  1. “All human beings are capable of being creative — it is part of our birthright.” Yeah!
  2. “It is not necessary to be a genius to be creative.” Thank goodness!
  3. “No matter how severely our creativity may have been repressed in the past, it can be reassessed, stimulated, and developed through life experiences and specialized programs.” Good to know. (Herrmann)

Because the experiences of every individual are different and special, Herrmann does not like to define creativity. (Herrmann) Yet we need to have a definition of creativity to understand the context of Herrmann’s work.  For Herrmann, creativity in its fullest sense, is the combination of generating an idea and making something happen because of the idea.  When creativity includes application, the definition of creativity is seen through a different lens because:

-Ideas can happen in seconds, but application can take days, years, or your entire life to realize.

-Ideas come out of only one quadrant, whereas application will call on the brain’s four quadrants and its varied mental abilities.

-Ideas may come in a single flash, but application is a process with many different phases. (Herrmann)

In 1975 when Herrmann first asserted that the source of creativity, physiologically speaking, was the brain, others in the field thought he was nuts—because all the literature to that point never mentioned the brain. (Herrmann) He realized the process of creativity was aided by the specialization of each quadrant of the brain.  In The Creative Brain, Herrmann describes Graham Wallas’ research on the four-stage process of what happens as people approach problems with the desire to come up with creative solutions.

Wallas’ four stage process:

PREPARATION: define the problem, need or desire — criteria is established to verify the solution’s acceptability.

INCUBATION: contemplation of the problem and working through it — this could take minutes, weeks, possibly years.

ILLUMINATION: ideas are formed — it could be parts of the idea or the idea itself. This is quick, often with a rush of ideas in a few minutes or hours.

VERIFICATION: activities are performed to see if they meet the need of the criteria in the preparation stage.

Herrmann then applies the whole brain approach to Wallas’ four stage creative process, while adding interest and application.  Herrmann states that “interest is the mental motivation to start the preparation phase and application is the need for mental satisfaction to complete the process with an action oriented ending.”

INTEREST: this is spread over all four quadrants.

PREPARATION: mainly A and B quadrants because it involves fact finding, organizing and developing the plan of action.

INCUBATION: this takes place in the C and D quadrants as it requires contemplation, reflection, visualization and sensory perception.

ILLUMINATION: this is mainly in the right quadrants and especially D.  This is where the idea originated and might be referred to as an Aha! or lightbulb moment.

VERIFICATION: this is A and B quadrant activity because the idea is recorded or captured and then checked to see if it takes care of the original problem.

APPLICATION: each quadrant plays a part, usually starting in B with  A, C, and D becoming involved.

This appears to be a very orderly process and as an entrepreneur you may have moved through these steps at one time or another, knowingly or unknowingly. You may have done them quickly or taken years.  While working through the steps you may have even gone back through them and come up with more ideas or awareness while working on an idea or project which lead you to create new solutions and applications.

I leave you with an interesting article  on creative people, their brains and how they work –  https://qz.com/584850/creative-peoples-brains-really-do-work-differently/?utm_source=qzfb.  Herrmann lays creativity out as a process using all four quadrants in the six steps above.  These authors agree that “creativity doesn’t just involve a single brain region or even a single side of the brain. Instead, the creative process draws on the whole brain.” (Gregoire)


Herrmann, Ned. The Creative Brain. North Carolina: The Ned Herrmann Group, 2008.

Commentary. “Creative People’s Brains Really Do Work Differently.” Quartz. Quartz, Jan 04. 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.tz





  1. This is my favorite topic. I agree completely that everyone is creative. This is one of the most important topics. We must allow each other to play and create in thought. If we are not allowed to do this at work (yes, at work), we will not be able to grow and sustain. If we can’t grow, create, and then repeat that sequence. Then we are done. Creativity is the heart and passion of the whole thing. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing.

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