Four-Phase Model

Type of record:
  • Macro method
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10


The four-phase model creates awareness of how creative thinking or dealing with problems works and how they can be solved.

The British social psychologist and educationalist Graham Wallas systematized the observations of the German universal scholar Hermann von Helmholtz and the French mathematician Henri Poincaré and in 1926 brought them together to form a theory of creative thinking.

The structuring introduced by Graham is still valid today in creativity research, even though models with different phase numbers have emerged as variants. The boundaries between the individual phases are fluid.
  • Effective for all innovation types
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for low complex challenges
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for radical innovations
  • P2 Analysis (problems - challenges - environment - people - products)
  • P5 Idea Finding (ideation - idea generation - creative phase - incubation)
  • P6 Idea enrichment (idea combination - idea integration)
  • P8 Early Prototyping (testing the idea directly on the user)
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