The desire to create a new venture is a result of an entrepreneur’s motivation. Entrepreneurship motivation comes as a result of fulfilling Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which are physiological, safety and security, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization (Gambrel & Cianci 2003) Entrepreneurship involves creativity and innovation. Creativity enhances efficiency of a process. It is not reserved for only a few individuals but is seen in people who look at things differently. It is not learned – it is inside individuals who practice it (McAuley & Fillis 1999). It involves knowledge accumulation, incubation, idea experience generation, evaluation, and implementation (Fredrick & Kuratko 2010). Creativity entails process and people. Process is aimed at obtaining solutions to problems and people are the resources that provide the solution.
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The creative process requires energy, focus, perseverance, and discipline. It requires knowledge of organizational policies and business planning. For a creative process to be successful, information must be gathered from different sources including books, professional meetings, magazines, and journals. It also involves travelling to different places and talking to friends, professionals, and everybody about an idea.
This paper discusses steps which were involved in the creative process to come up with an idea of developing colorful custom-designed coffins. It reports and evaluates how the idea was developed using four phases of creative process i.e. knowledge accumulation, incubation, idea experience generation, and evaluation and implementation.
- Background or Knowledge Accumulation.
The creative process begins by investigation or gathering of information (Kumar 2008). The information gathered helps in the identification of a viable business opportunity. The opportunity can be an improvement of an already existing product or service or a completely new product or service.
There are different stages in life that every human being must pass through. Everyone must be born, grow into youths, become adults, pass through old age, and eventually die. At times of death, many people always wish to be buried or cremated. Some people may prefer to be buried in coffins made in their own designs.
Many coffins used for burial are designed in the same way, and existing coffin manufacturers have not considered making coffins with custom designs. Moreover, in today’s industrial world, it is important to develop products that do not pollute the environment. Most coffins are made with either wood or metal. These materials are not friendly to the environment. They take years to completely decompose.
Many families honor the dead by building alters and offering maize, fruits, traditional bread, and other offerings as they greet the spirits. Chinese offer their dead sacrificial offerings, and after funeral, burn papers as a sign of giving the dead material goods. This shows the kind of love people give to the dead. Suppose coffins were made according to the designs given by relatives or the wishes of the dead, would this make the relatives even happier? What about the dead, would this make their spirits rest in peace? This is the question that was left unanswered and the idea to develop custom-design coffins was born.
The types of coffins people use were seen through travelling to new places and attending burials and cremations to see. Friends and relatives were also very instrumental in providing information about the kinds of coffins they would prefer their relatives or themselves to be buried in or cremated. Prices of coffins were also enquired and the time it takes for manufacturers to deliver orders to customers.
Having found that many coffins are built using metal and wood, the next move was to determine if the materials could cause harm to the environment. Books and journals were thereafter extensively read to get information about effects of metal and wood on the environment. To get an insight on the best environmental friendly materials to use in making furniture, seminars on environmental conservation were also attended. Moreover, more information about coffins and acts performed by different communities after burial was obtained through scanning newspapers and magazines. Any information got from the sources was documented in a note book.
- The Incubation Process.
The amount of information gathered at the knowledge accumulation stage crisscrossed over subconscious mind as a solution to the identified problem was being sought. This happened even when engaging in duties that were totally irrelevant. The incubation stage was also facilitated by engaging in activities that did not require a lot of attention such as daily exercising and playing table tennis and chess.
The problem was meditated upon every day before and after sleep. Any information that came in the mind at any particular time was noted for future reference. The problem was so disturbing that it led to loud night dreams.
The problem could not get out of the mind. It was meditated upon while walking, relaxing, or sitting under trees. This happened as a better solution for the problem was being sought. It could at times divert attention from certain activities such as singing.
The Idea Experience
This is the stage where the solution to the problem is discovered. It makes people very happy that they almost lose track of what is happening the moment a solution to the problem is got. It relives brain from the burden. It is the emotions people have at this stage that drives them to accomplish evaluation and implementation phase. According to Cardon et al. (2012), entrepreneurs’ emotions determine the success by which they obtain resources for their new businesses. It happens at the time when it is least expected and when people do something totally unrelated to the subject. The solution was to make coffins which are custom designed according to wishes of the dead and relatives that use paper-based wraps and environment friendly inks as materials.
The idea came through lateral thinking. It came since most of the times the positive sides about the problem were explored. It was like the yellow hat symbol which encourages critical thinkers to look at the positives and concentrate on areas that add value and benefit (Bono 1999). In everything that was done, the thought of getting the best solution could not end.
In the knowledge accumulation phase, professional personnel of organizations or the public could not be personally interviewed because of lack of formal ethics approval from the La Trobbe University Ethics Committee. This became a barrier when getting information from primary sources which would have been very constructive in the creative process. The incubation of ideas process involved a lot of stress as a solution to the problem was sought. The stress, however, was overcome by doing a lot of exercises and sharing the problem with others.
- Evaluation and Implementation.
This phase involves finalizing the ideas which were roughly identified in phase three (Harvard Business Review 2011). One of the group members came up with an idea of developing recycling machines for soft drink cans such as coke and 7up fanta. The idea could allow people to sign up members’ card, collect cans, and get awarded. Moreover, members who have enough cans could be awarded cans of soft drinks. The idea was good but group members declined it because it required more finance to start. There are also many existing recycling companies, including soft drink companies, which could venture in the idea and raise a lot of competition.
The group chose the idea of making products that will provide affordable health services to all households and enable early detection for major illnesses known as the Doc. The idea was arrived at after considering that many people take a long time without knowing their health status and use a lot of money in hospitals to know their status. The products will help them know their health status. They will simply place their hands on the products and get their long term health data. It will be used to test blood, body temperature, heart rate, BMI, and nutrient levels and provide results early enough. I addition, it will help detect early signs of cancer. The idea targets a large market since it will be used by people living in remote areas which have no adequate health facilities. It will help them monitor and know their health status while in their homes before seeking treatment.
Implementation of creative ideas by entrepreneurs leads to creation of innovative products or services. The products or services can be upgrade of existing products or services or totally new ones (Larsen & Lewis 2007). The Doc idea is an extension of already existing products that are used in hospitals to determine health status of people.
A major problem encountered in the implementation stage is lack of finance. The Docs’ production costs are very high as most of its raw materials are not locally available. The idea also requires extensive marketing to make people aware of the product. This also requires significant amount of money.
The creative process involves knowledge accumulation, incubation, idea experience, and evaluation and implementation. The knowledge accumulation stage is facilitated through reading a variety of books and articles, discussing with friends and families, and travelling to new places. To facilitate incubation and idea experience stages, entrepreneurs should consider exercising regularly, playing, engaging in activities such as painting and day dreaming.
The whole creative process requires appropriate environment to be successful. There may be stress in the course of the process, but effective ways exist that can be used to overcome it. The Docs’ idea, having passed through all the creative processes, can generate good returns if implemented.