Modeling Language Spotlight
The Four Step Recreative Process
July 27, 1997


Like the other models of the MG Taylor Modeling Language, the Four Step Recreative Process Model is protected by copyright. You can use it only by meeting these four conditions.

How do you create what you want to create? How do you share your vision with others to allow them to help you create what you want to create? How do you measure the success of what you have created? These are the questions that the Four Step Recreative Process model addresses.

You may be wondering why there needs to be yet another model for the creative process. Is there something wrong with the Seven Stages of the Creative Process model? Of course not. This is merely another example of the nature of models. A model is a slice of reality. It represents the parts of reality that you wish to represent with that model. Therefore if you wish to represent different aspects of the same thing, you will need to use different models. Just as a stick figure drawing represents different aspects of "person" than say, a CPR dummy, the Four Step model highlights different aspects of the creative process than the Seven Stages model does. Neither is "right" or "wrong". They merely represent different aspects of the same process.

The Recreative Process
Here is a look at the traditional model:

Glyph Info Element Description
Vision Create a vision for what you want to create.
Template Create a template for your creation, in words, symbols, pictures, 3D, or some other physical medium. This template should represent your vision and be able to communicate its essence to others.
Act Make the creation real. Take the necessary steps to bring it into the world.
Feedback Discover how well the creation performs in the world. Does it fulfill your vision? How do others like it? Does it inspire new visions in you or in others?
Recreate Between each of the steps, you must recreate what it is you are trying to do given the different and unique parameters of each of these different steps.

At first glance this model seems pretty straightforward. As an example, let's examine the state of education today. After looking at the world (getting feedback) you decide that the education system is not satisfactory. You create a vision for a new kind of learning environment. Knowledge in this school is no longer divided in to the rigid categories of physics, history, math, philosophy and the like. Instead, all knowledge weaves together to form the elaborate fabric of the universe. Learning in this environment is experiential and shared. [See the 5 Es of Education model.] All participants in this environment play a number of different roles, from learner, to steward, to facilitator to expert, depending on the subject at hand and the role that needs playing. [See the Learning Path: Five Points of Mastery model.] All learning is also grounded in application--learners are using the knowledge that they gain in real world settings. Needless to say, this vision is very different from current conditions. [See the Creating the Problem model.]

You will not be able to create this environment alone so you must be able to share this vision. The vision, however only exists in your head and in your heart. The vision is a collection of images, ideas and impressions that can only exist in the realm of concept. To share it with others, it must take on a physical form--it must become a template. Now, a template can take on any number of physical media: words, drawings, physical models made of clay or popsicle sticks, photos, essays, charts, graphs, or any other means of communication. To create a template, you must choose the elements of your vision that you most want to represent to others. What is the essence of the vision? What elements are essential to the creation you envision, and what elements can be flexible? Now you must decide how best to represent those elements. Your template for the new learning environment takes on a number of different forms. You draw a diagram to represent the interactions of different members of the learning community. You draw another diagram to represent the physical interactions of the people. And you write a story to capture the essence of the learning experience. These templates you share with others, who catch fire with the vision as it is recreated in their own minds. They can only understand as much of your vision as you have represented by the models. The rest of their visions are their of their own creation.

Now you must gather your group to create that learning environment. You must bring the templates into reality. This involves coordianted group effort based on the blueprints of your templates. Some people set up the environments, others decide what sorts of learning will go on, others find people to become the learners in this new environment. From the templates, a creation is brought into the world, and the creation must take into account real world factors that the template may not have considered. The reality is a different creature than the template, but the two attempt to represent the same vision in their respective media.

Now you must sit back and watch the learning environment operate. How well is it working? Are people falling back on old patterns of learning and teaching? Are learners using their knowledge in the real world and are they learning what they came to learn? Are you satisfied that your vision has been fulfilled? In what other ways could this environment be used? Who else should be a part of it? What else should be taught? Now you begin to create a new vision and the creative process cycles onward.

The Dynamic Four Step
Now, the model becomes more complex, and more interesting, when we begin to looks at the white spaces between the steps of the model. What happens as vision becomes a template becomes reality becomes feedback becomes a vision? Each of the stages of this model are fundamentally different creatures. A vision is a shifting collection of ideas, impressions, memories, senses, images and feelings. A template is a piece that represents a whole. It is a slice of reality or a slice of an idea. Either way it is an attempt to represent the essence of a whole or the essential elements of a whole (according to the modeler) in a physical form, whether it be words, sketches or a more material representation. A real creation (created through Action) is a living, breathing entity. It exists is relationships to the world, and is subject to real world limitations and influences. It is a representation of the whole of which the template is but a slice. In the feedback stage, the creation is utterly independant. It exists and is part of the world, to be judged and measured like any other part of the environment. It is no longer connected to the creator or to the vision. Its purpose now is to do what it does.

Each of these stages is fundamentally different so there must be a whole new creative process--a re-creation--between each stage of the model. This look at the model places much more emphasis on the act of recreation. Recreation is the center out of which each of the stages is launched and back to which each stage returns before being recreated into the next stage.

Let's look at the phase shift of the creation from vision to template, as an example of what we mean by recreation. First you must create a vision for the template--"How can I represent this vision to others?" Then you must create a template for the template--"How well might this template represent my vision?" Next, act to create the template. Now you must get feedback on the template--"How well does the template really represent my vision to others?" If it is not satisfactory then you must create a new vision for a template that would better represent your vision to others and begin the process again. This same process occurs between each of the stages of the creative process model.
The Recreative Process and the Three Cat Model
Any number of models from the modeling language can be tied into this model, but let us use the Three Cat model as an example of how models can be tied together.

Very simply, the Three Cat model examines the relationships between reality (Real Cat), how we percieve reality (Concept Cat), and how we represent our conceptions to others (Mechanical Cat). These descriptions are probably beginning to sound familiar because they are very similar to the ways that Vision, Template and Act were described. The creation in the Vision stage is a Concept Cat. In the Template stage, it is Mechanical Cat. Through the Act phase, the creation becomes Real Cat. The feedback that is shown in the Four Step model to connect Act and Vision, is shown in the Three Cat model to connect all three elements. With this introduction, go ahead and get out your journal.

Journal Excercise: Given these connections between the elements of the Four Step Creative Process model and the Three Cat model, what do the relationships represented in the Three Cat Model tell you about the relationships in the Four Step model? What can the relationships in the Four Step model tell you about the relationships in the Three Cat model? How do other models relate to the Four Step model? (Hint: To start, look at Seven Stages of the Creative Process, Design Build Use, Scan Focus Act, and Creating the Problem.)
Journal Excercise: Now, let's play a S'poze. S'poze you have just taught a child to ride a bicycle using the Four Step Creative Process model. How did you use the model? What were the different stages? What was the nature of the recreations and how were they accomplished, both for you and for the child?
Matt Taylor’s Comments on this Model
click on the model graphic to go to the complete web piece
4 Step Re-Creation Model
the transition of idea to physical reality
This is one of the most important of all the Taylor Models and one of the least understood and used. It makes a distinction which is almost always overlooked in the understanding of how ideas transform through multiple iterations of work and how they are expressed in different forms as they travel from metaphysical to physical reality.
The distinction is that an idea does not smoothly evolve through the creative process it transforms through re-creation at each of the major transition points along the path. This recreation is forced by many factors. Primary ones are iteration: the feedback to an individual or group of their own work (as an output) - from self or from others - and how this effects their concept, intension and subsequent work; recursion: the passage of time and (as an input) the ongoing influences from new, self induced thoughts, from colleagues, society and stimulus from the world at large; and, in most projects, the form a work takes as a natural consequence of development, modeling, communication and testing.
The Solution Box Model is a map of this journey and the Zone of Emergence Model shows how iteration, recursion, and feedback combine to induce a system break and change - a synergy - resulting in a outcome both purposeful and yet not predictable nor predetermined in the specific.

The Solution Box is composed of three models: The Creative Process, Vantage Points and Design Formation.

These form a matrix of 343 discreet steps each requiring their own unique language, criteria of veracity, work methods and tools.

click on the graphic for more

The Zone of emergence Model frames the conditions and essential dynamics of iteration, recursion and feedback necessary for systematic yet open-ended emergence in agent interaction, collaboration and design.

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and go to:
valueweb mechanicss

The 4 Step Model is relevant on both the large scale of an effort and at the may discrete steps which may be involved with the effort. Generally, an idea goes from mind-space to physical representation to group effort, then to evaluation and feedback. Then, of course, back to mind-space. This same process happens at many of the intersections of the Solution Box. Generally, it is Design Formation - the form an idea takes in any iteration of work - which drives each iteration of the 4 Step process at the sub-system level.

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