The real reason why being "lazy" is part of any creative process

Has it ever happened to you to have an idea, to analyze it, to "improve it" (mentally or in writing), and after to improve the already improved version? And all this “improvement process” to delay the materialization of that concept? 

Yes, creativity comes with multiple ideas, but also with the desire to repeatedly remodel these ideas in order to reach the perfect result. Consequently, it is a reality: creative people need more time to make the step towards action.

Unfortunately, in the absence of in-depth information in the field, most of the time such a creative person feels guilty for not passing to action faster. 

This feeling comes as a result of social pressure. The person often self-shames herself. She also often characterises herself as “procrastinator”, “coward”, or just “lazy”.

What does actually mean the fact that you take your time? 

Following numerous studies, starting in 1970, researchers, mathematicians, philosophers and psychologists have come to the same conclusion: the mentally creative process, in business and not only, has 4 phases: 

  • Phase I: Preparation (for problem analysis), 
  • Phase II: Incubation (done subconscious), 
  • Phase III: Illumination (solution) 
  • Phase IV: Testing.

We can consider that a 5th stage is added, or a sub-phase of the first, which we will call Phase 0 - “Rephrase the problem”. The rephrasing phase always causes delay in implementation. And it's actually very good news!

What is the Rephrasing phase? 

The Rephrasing phase of the problem is an additional time granted to "play" mentally with the details of the problem in order to generate the most appropriate solution.

This mental rephrasing involves delaying the implementation and giving more attention to creative analysis.

A very interesting connexion has been discovered between the time spent in the analytical and creative “play with the details” phase of the problem and the implementation phase:

  • The more time people spent "playing around" with the details of the problem, the more creative and appreciated their end result became.

The results stood out when compared to people who took less time to treat the same problem.

In the business environment, a great example of a company that has taken its time for the “rephrasing the problem” stage is "Play-Doh" company. 

The “Play-Doh” kids crafts today’s famous product was launched in 1930 as a … wall cleaner product named “Kutol”. The “Kutol” product faced difficulties when gas heating became popular.  

While not finding a solution for the loss of popularity problem in this industry, the company rephrased the problem in a creative way: “If we can not offer this product as a wall cleaner solution, could we find another useful purpose for this already existing product?”

The answer was a clear “Yes” when the company found a teacher that was using the product for his crafts classes. The next step was producing it in multiple colors and the rest is history.

The "Play-Doh" became not just a creative solution, but a worldwide success.

In business analysis terms, this process is also called pivoting


Spending more time to analyze a problem from different angles doesn’t represent "laziness" or other negative traits.

On the contrary, this is the first step towards finding a creative and solid solution that is more likely to be well received by it’s audience.

Are you in a phase of “Preparation” (for problem analysis), in a phase of “Incubation” (done subconscious), in a phase of “Illumination” (solution) or in a phase of “Testing” regarding your future project?

Own your process, you got this!