Innovation's Organizing Principles

This Page:


Principle #1

Principle #2

Principle #3

Principle #4



Prototype: Innovation's Organizing Principles

This page elaborates upon each of the principles included in the site's prototype set of innovation's organizing principles. Selected sources are included throughout the elaboration. Also, the site's separate Feasibility page provides a narrative account of sources associated with initial questions such as: What is innovation exactly? Why does it matter? How does it work?

The summary of the prototype principles, just below, is followed by elaboration of each principle.

For the purpose of catalyzing the change of more value, or yield, from the same resources (e.g., yield in terms of "profit, planet, and/or people"):


Summary --

Again, a summary of the prototype set of innovation's organizing principles:

For the purpose of catalyzing the change of more yield from the same resources (e.g., yield in terms of "profit, planet, and/or people"):

  • Principle #1 -- Innovation's change lever is new "value," beginning with the value to practitioners of compelling purpose.
  • Principle #2 -- Innovation's catalyst is forcefully positive
  • Principle #3 -- Innovation's essential creative structure is hypotheses
  • Principle #4 -- Innovation's hypotheses amplify a force of integration



[5] For example:

Peter F. Drucker, in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (HarperBusiness, 1985), p 138: "(W)hen all is said and done, innovation become hard, focused, purposeful work making very great demands on diligence, on persistence, and on commitment. If these are lacking, no amount of talent, ingenuity, or knowledge will avail. ... Successful innovators look at opportunities over a wide range. But then they ask, "Which of these opportunities fits me, fits this company, puts to work what we (or I) are good at and have shown capacity for in performance? ... Innovators must be temperamentally attuned to the innovative opportunity. It must be important to them and make sense to them. Otherwise they will not be wiling to put in the persistent, hard, frustrating work that successful innovation always requires."

John W. Gardner, in Self-Renewal, the Individual and the Innovative Society, (W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1963), p 37, in chapter entitled "Innovation": "(Creative individuals) reserve their independence for what really concerns them -- the area in which their creative activities occur."

Similarly, creativity researchers have deemed intrinsic motivation as fundamental to creative work. See for example: Teresa M. Amabile, Creativity in context, (Westview Press: Boulder, CO, 1996).

This is borne out by accounts of innovation practitioners in compilations such as:

[6] Wendy Kopp, One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph Of Teach For America And What I Learned Along The Way, (Public Affairs: New York, 2001), p 6

[7] In one dense set of examples, the stories of twenty-five modern "world changers" feature a pattern of lead venturers catalyzing human energy and effectiveness within their organizations by way of: (i) attracting shared conviction in a picture of possibility; (ii) calling for ongoing shared engagement in realizing the vision. See John A. Byrne, World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It, (Portfolio/Penguin, 2011)

[8] Time Magazine, January 2011, “2010 Person of the Year”

[9] I first heard innovation depicted as "change by way of value" by Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, in 2012 when he spoke as a guest at an Ashoka Changemaker Campus "Exchange," convened that year at ASU.

[9-5] Robert E. Quinn, Change the World: How Ordinary People Can Accomplish Extraordinary Results, (Jossey Bass: San Francisco, 2000. Quinn describes the combination of being "inner-driven and other-focused" as the "fundamental state of leadership."

Also, related to the notion of other-focused, the fit of "empathy" within innovation's practice is highlighted by leading voices such as: IDEO (design firm) and Stanford leaders with respect to the model of Design Thinking and the organization of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public.

[9-8] Drucker, 1985, p 27

[10] See the entire first section of this site's Principles - Sources page. Plus: From Peter F. Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (HarperBusiness, 1985), p27:

"(Jean Baptiste) Say was primarily concerned with the economic sphere. But his definition only calls for the resources to be 'economic.' The purpose to which these resoures are dedicated need not be what is traditionally thought of as economic. Education is not normally considered 'economic' ... but the resources of education are, of course, economic. They are in fact identical with those used for the most unambiguously economic purpose such as making soap for sale. Indeed, the resources for all social activities of human beings are the same and are 'economic' resources. ... (Entrepreneurship) pertains to all activities of human beings other than those one might term “existential” rather than 'social.'"

[10-1] See immediately preceding footnote.

[10-2] Jeffrey D. Sachs, Building the New American Economy - Smart, Fair, & Sustainable, (Columbia University Press; New York, 2017). Sachs associates "sustainable development" overall with economic policy that focuses simultaneously on the issues of: promoting economic growth, promoting social fairness, and promoting environmental sustainability. p 7

[10-3] Andrew J. Hoffman, Finding Purpose, Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling, (Greenleaf Publishing Ltd: U.K, 2016).
Hoffman refers to "creating a sustainable world," which in effect combines the three societal P's. In asociation with these interrelated ends, Hoffman argues that the foundational means will require "a deep shift in our values that is on par with the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, or the Digital Revolution." (p 71)

[10-4] Drucker, 1985, p 252

[10-5] Drucker, Managing in the Next Society, (St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2002), p 95

[10-6] Jean Baptiste Say, A Treatise on Political Economy, (1821), Book I, Chapter I

[11] For example, from Hoffman, 2016:

"The market is the most powerful institution on the planet, and business the most powerful entity within it." (p 41)

"If business does not lead the way toward solutions for an enironmentally sustainable, carbon-neutral world, there will be no solutions." (p 42)

"It does not require a 'green' mindset to see the opportunities. It requires a 'business' mindset." (p 47)

"The next iteration of sustainable business practices, moving from enterprise integration to market transformation, will establish new norms of social and environmental behavior on a global level, translate those norms to the national and local levels, and develop solutions that are systemic in nature, rather than collections of siloed approaches." (p 42)

See also video presentation at: Andrew Hoffman, Holcim (U.S.) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan, presentation: "Finding Purpose: Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling," Dec. 6, 2016. Positive Links Speaker Series, Center for Positive Organizations, University of Michigan Ross School of Business, video:

[11-1] The interrelatedness is not new. It is a level of attention that is new. As but one example of the type of new attention that has grown in visibility:

Within a 2007 panel discussion held at the University of Michigan, entitled, "Is Consumerism Sustainable?" the panelists concurred that "innovation" is the answer to sustainable development … "either gradually or by crisis." It is up to innovation to advance yield on natural resources to at least maintain the standard of living among developed populations while also improving the standard of living among developing populations. University of Michigan Erb Institute video archives, "Is Consumerism Sustainable?" (2007)

Jeffrey Sachs has added that innovation will not be enough; political change is required too.

[12] Knowledge about "value," on a fundamental level, seems surprisingly limited within the work of innovation's thought and action leaders. One seemingly pertinent resource is knowledge from the new field of positive psychology. For example, Martin Seligman refers to his theory of "well-being" as one representing five categories associated with "uncoerced choice" -- of value for the sake of their direct value alone: positive emotions, engagement (of personal strengths), positive relations, meaning, and accomplishment. See Martin E. P. Seligman, Flourish, A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, (Free Press, Simon & Schuster: New York, 2011)
Seligman refers to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theory of "flow" with regard to the well-being element of engagement. See Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow : the psychology of optimal experience, (Harper Perennial: New York, 1991)

[13] See references at footnote 5 above.

[13-1] Paul J. Zak, from "The Drucker Exchange" blog, April 4, 2013,

[14] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millenium, (HarperCollins: New York, 1993), p 62

[15] Martin E. P. Seligman, Flourish, A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, (Free Press, Simon & Schuster: New York, 2011)

[16] Peter F. Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (HarperBusiness, 1985), p27

[16-5] Soren Kaplan, "How One Insurance Firm Learned to Create an Innovation Culture," Harvard Business Review (, August 15, 2017

[17] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2011), p 100

[18] jThese ideas draw in part from Stephen Goldsmith, The Power of Social Innovation, (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2010). See this site's description of a "Social Differential."

[19] Jerome S. Bruner, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, (Harvard University Press, 1986), p 13

[19-5] Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, (New York Riverhead Books, 2010), p 35

[20] "Evaluative-generative" comes from Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds, Learning to Be Creative (Capstone Publishing: UK, 2011). Robinson described "medium of expression" as the mechanism for generativity.

[20-5] For a particularly comprehensive example, which builds on decades of collective scholarly work, see: Robert J. Sternberg, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2003). In this model, the intellectual element of creativity is described as calling for analytical, creative, and practical thinking skills. For a range of sources, see this web site's Feasibility page (especially the section on Creativity).

[21] For example, see:

Jerome S. Bruner, On Knowing, Essays for the Left Hand, (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1962), p 20: "To create consists precisely in not making useless combinations and in making those which are useful and which are only a small minority. Invention is discernment, choice."

William Damon, "The Education of Steve Jobs," Stanford University, Hoover Institution, Defining Ideas, 9-16-2011: "But any idiot can take risks. ...The essential question is not whether people can take risks but rather how certain people are able to discern when a particular risk is worth taking. In fact—and this is rarely appreciated by those in the media who observe successful entrepreneurship from the outside—well-prepared entrepreneurs generally do not experience their investments in innovation to be much of a risk. The key is their preparation, not their desire to gamble."

[21-2] For example, see:

Steve Blank, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Successful Strategies for Products that Win, (Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 2003)

[21.5] Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation, (Self-published, 2009), p 1

[22] Frank H. T. Rhodes, "Sustainability: the Ultimate Liberal Art," The Chronicle Review, Volume 53, Issue 9, p B24

[22-5] Peter Thiel described the pertinence of "secrets" in: Peter A. Thiel, Zero to One (Crown Publishing Group: New York, 2014).

[23] Edmund Phelps, Mass Flourishing (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 2013)

[23-1] John W. Gardner, Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society, (Norton, New York, 1963), p 33

[23-2] Johnson, p 33

[23.3] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity - Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, HarperCollins: New York, 1996), p 10

[24] Bruner , 1986, p 52

[25] Although this cognitive processing element draws upon a particularly dense set of sources, certain articulations summarized chunks of sources. For the way s of thinking and knowing -- "analytical, creative, and practical" -- the articulation draws in particular from Rober J. Sternberg's "WICS" model (Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized).

For the set of thematic descriptors of internal and external conditions (openness, flexible, and complexity) the terms were repeated across many sources, including over time. For examples of overall sources, see this web site's Feasibility page (especially the section on Creativity).

[26] Jerome S. Bruner, On Knowing, Essays for the Left Hand, (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1962), p 20

[27] "Collectives of purpose" describes the fundamental type of collaborative team in: Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, A New Culture of Learning, Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, (Create Space: Lexington, KY, 2011)

[28]"The Entrepreneur of the Decade," Inc. Magazine, April 1, 1989
Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster: New York, 2011), p 362

[28.5] The "t-shaped" concept refers generally to individuals each having in-depth knowledge and skills related to one area plus wide-ranging complementary knowledge and skills. Tom Kelley of IDEO Design was an early proponent. IDEO attributes the term and concept to McKinsey & Company. For perspective, see:

[29] John W. Gardner, On Leadership, (The Free Press: New York, NY, 1990), p 165

[29.5] Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, 2011), p 343, pp 368-369

[30] Wendy Kopp, A Chance to Make History, What Works and What Doesn’t in Providing an Excellent Education for All, (New York: Public Affairs, 2011)

[31] Tom Kelley, The Ten Faces of Innovation, (Currency Doubleday: New York, 2005)