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19 Innovation Principles

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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 Constraints

The 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 Focus

Valuable innovations fulfill customer needs and wants.

Design For Scale

Designing 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 Sustainability

Aligning 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 Often

Fail 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 Well

Fail 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 Loop

An iterative process of using feedback from sources such as customers to quickly improve an innovation.

Innovation Ability

The 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 Culture

An 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 Anywhere

The 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 Improve

The principle that each innovation be measurable. A means of measurement is often a basic criteria for accepting innovations for evaluation.


A mission statement for your innovation program. Innovative organizations typically have a strong sense of mission.

Open Innovation

Innovation is shared in the open in order to harden designs with peer review and feedback.

Order Of Magnitude

The 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 Principle

The principle that an innovation be generally accepted as safe and sustainable before being launched to the public or released into the environment.

Reuse And Improve

Innovation 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 Often

Innovation is shipped as quickly as possible and updated often to rapidly improve.

Test And Learn

Innovation is tested early and often. Analysis and insight into testing results is captured as knowledge.


A 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.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about innovation.
Business Models
Concept Testing
Cost Innovation
Crash Of Ineptitude
Design Thinking
Discontinuous Change
First Principles
Innovation Risk
Inventive Step
Latent Demand
Market Fit
Naive Innovation
Prior Art
Proof Of Concept
Speculative Design
Systems Thinking
Technology Winter
Throwaway Prototype
Trough Of Sorrow
Value Creation
More ...
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Customer Focus

A definition of customer focus with examples.

Innovation Metrics

How to measure innovation including early stage, late stage and overall program metrics.


The basic types of pilot used in business, science and entertainment.

Lead User

A definition of lead user with examples.

Moment Of Truth

A definition of moment of truth with a few examples.

User Innovation

A definition of user innovation with examples.

Proof Of Concept

The common types of proof of concept.


The common types of commercialisation.

Innovation Objectives

The common types of innovation objectives with examples.

Thought Processes

A list of thinking approaches and types.


A few logic terms explained.

Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.

Abstract Ideas

A few dangers of being too abstract.

Objective vs Subjective

The difference between objective and subjective.

Intellectual Diversity

A definition of intellectual diversity with examples.

Creative Value

The definition of creative value with examples.

Anecdotal Evidence

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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