SEEDS - Stora Enso Design System

Innovation principles

Learn about the core principles and structured approaches that can help with the difficult work of innovation

First Principles Thinking

2000 years ago Aristotle defined a first principle as “the first basis from which a thing is known". A first principle is just the basic assumption that cannot be reduced any further. No assumptions about it. It’s reduced down to the core truth that you can say, “We know this is true.” Or at least, “We’re reasonably sure that this is true.”

Most of our knowledge is based on assumptions, following authorities and building analogies from other knowledge. To put it simply first principles thinking is about putting our existing knowledge aside and deconstructing a given complex problem down to its core facts; namely the first principles and building up from there.

If you think of a tree of a knowledge idea is to get to the roots and from there to reason upwards to build new branches and leaves. Opposing approach would have been trying to jump from one leave to another, from one branch to another.

"5 Whys" method can be useful to achieve to get to the "roots" of a given problem or observation. To build upwards from there the next framework 4 Lenses Of Innovation can be used.

Four Lenses of Innovation

This one is a book by Rowan Gibson that unpacks the core approaches for a successful innovation, and a natural company for First Principles of Thinking.

The key pillars of this framework are:

Challenging Orthodoxies: Try to look at what is usually taken for granted in your problem domain, then challenge it – blow it up! – and see what happens

Harnessing Trends: Look around you at what is happening in the world and try to use the emerging trends to revolutionize the future of your business or your life

Leveraging Resources: Take a fresh look at the resources you have (either your own skills and assets or those your organization) and think about how you could use them in new ways to create innovation opportunities

Understanding Needs: Try to understand the difficulties and frustrations that people face every day and then see if you can solve them like nobody has before.

If you are interested in this approach the book is well recommended.