19 Innovation Principles
John Spacey, updated on January 13, 2023
Innovation principles are guidelines that an organization adopts as a basis for innovation activities. They are typically considered foundational statements that are intended to guide innovation decisions, culture, programs and projects. The following are general innovation principles that have achieved widespread adoption.
Creativity Of ConstraintsThe principle that well designed constraints often spark creative results. Counters the common idea that creativity is boundless and unrestricted. Most examples of works that are considered creative genius were developed in a framework of constraints. For example, music is almost always based on constraints such as a harmonic framework, chord progression, conventions, style, genre or tradition.
Customer FocusValuable innovations fulfill customer needs and wants.
Design For ScaleDesigning things to be useful to a great number of people. Design for scale also implies that innovations benefit from economies of scale, meaning that unit cost drops as you produce more.
Design For SustainabilityAligning design with the sustainability values of your organization such as designs that are reusable, made of low-impact materials, recyclable, resource efficient and produced without harmful byproducts.
Fail OftenFail often is a method of innovation that tests a large number of fearless ideas with the reasonable expectation that most will fail and a few will succeed. According to the fail often method, a lack of failure is a sign that you're not pushing hard enough to innovative.
Fair WellFail well is the design of tests to fail quickly, cheaply and safety. It is used by innovation methods such as fail often to minimize the impact of innovation testing.
Feedback LoopAn iterative process of using feedback from sources such as customers to quickly improve an innovation.
Innovation AbilityThe principle that innovation is an ability that is related to other abilities such as problem solving, design and divergent thinking. Innovation is widely considered a tacit ability that is difficult to detect with standardized testing.
Innovation CultureAn organization's values, norms, habits, history, symbols and work environment impact its ability to innovate. Based on the observation that some corporate cultures are able to generate a steady stream of valuable innovations while others struggle.
Innovation From AnywhereThe principle that innovation can come from anywhere. Typically applied by creating processes that are accessible to all your employees to submit innovations for evaluation and testing. In many cases, customers, partners and the community may also be invited to submit innovations. Such processes may include incentives for successful innovation.
Measure And ImproveThe principle that each innovation be measurable. A means of measurement is often a basic criteria for accepting innovations for evaluation.
MissionA mission statement for your innovation program. Innovative organizations typically have a strong sense of mission.
Open InnovationInnovation is shared in the open in order to harden designs with peer review and feedback.
Order Of MagnitudeThe goal of innovation is to take leaps forward by creating things that are an order of magnitude better than the current state of the art.
Precautionary PrincipleThe principle that an innovation be generally accepted as safe and sustainable before being launched to the public or released into the environment.
Reuse And ImproveInnovation reuses existing knowledge, technology and resources where possible. Discourages the common perception that innovation is always greenfield. In many cases, valuable innovations are a slight variation of an existing product, service or process.
Ship OftenInnovation is shipped as quickly as possible and updated often to rapidly improve.
Test And LearnInnovation is tested early and often. Analysis and insight into testing results is captured as knowledge.
VisionA vision statement for your innovation program that paints a compelling picture of the future. In many cases, a principle is established that each innovation program is to publish a vision statement.
InnovationThis is the complete list of articles we have written about innovation.
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Customer FocusA definition of customer focus with examples.
Innovation MetricsHow to measure innovation including early stage, late stage and overall program metrics.
The basic types of pilot used in business, science and entertainment.
A definition of lead user with examples.
Moment Of TruthA definition of moment of truth with a few examples.
User InnovationA definition of user innovation with examples.
Proof Of Concept
The common types of proof of concept.
The common types of commercialisation.
The common types of innovation objectives with examples.
Thought ProcessesA list of thinking approaches and types.
LogicA few logic terms explained.
Cognitive BiasesA list of common cognitive biases explained.
A few dangers of being too abstract.
Objective vs Subjective
The difference between objective and subjective.
Intellectual DiversityA definition of intellectual diversity with examples.
Creative ValueThe definition of creative value with examples.
The definition of anecdotal evidence with examples.
Benefit Of Doubt
The definition of benefit of doubt with examples.
The definition of pessimism with examples.
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