the 9 principles

emergence over authority

Emergence isn't about replacing authority.

Emergent systems presume that every individual within that system possesses unique intelligence that benefits the group. This information is shared when people make choices about what ideas or projects to support, or, crucially, take that information and use it to innovate.

pull over push

You pull in what you need, instead of waiting for others to push it to you.

Pull ...leverages modern communications technologies and the decreased cost of innovation to move power from the core to the edges, enabling serendipitous discoveries and providing opportunities for innovators to mine their own passions. At its best, it allows people to find not only the things they need, but also the things they didn't know they needed.

compasses over maps

Maps are always changing, never up to date; why make one?

... compass headings create a framework for thinking about our own work, and leave open enough flexibility and interpretation to allow each group and individual to have an identity and a direction without reducing the wonderfully rich diversity of the whole. "We want to be less of a solid and more like a liquid or gas."

risk over safety

The cost of innovation and, hence, risk, has never been less. in innovation is no longer a virtue... 

Don't blindly ignore risk; understand it, embrace it, even celebrate it"...risk and experimentation, and a willingness to fail and start again from scratch." 

...taking chances is critical to keeping companies and economies afloat.

disobedience over compliance

Disobedience is about "permissionless innovation."

None of the pioneers of the Internet had business plans, and none of them asked permission.

Disobedience is not unethical nor immoral, but it is about questioning assumptions. Sometimes asking permission is right, but if someone says "you can't", ask why.

practice over theory

mens et manus, "mind and hand"  — MIT's motto

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." — Yogi Berra

Michael Faraday, one of the most influential scientists in history, had little formal education. His insights were gained by doing.

An answer from theory is right if it works, and it only works if you build and test it. If it doesn't work, you've learned by doing and are closer to being right.

diversity over ability

A bigger circle benefits us all.

Race, gender, socioeconomic background, and disciplinary training are all important, but only inasmuch as they are ciphers for the kinds of life experiences that produce cognitive diversity.

"...we should think of our differences as forms of talent. To leverage that talent requires patience and practice." — Larry Page

It is likely your whole career will be one of change; changing challenges, workplaces, colleagues, context. Like a healthy biological ecosystem, the key to surviving and thriving will be diversity.

resilience over strength

You are making the next big thing based on what you know.


Your assumptions are yours and yours alone. Assume that! They may be wrong and, certainly, some others will not share them and bypass you. Now what?

The answer is to adapt, to change course, to pivot. You can bend, but not break; take on new ideas and meet the challenge. Be mobile, be agile, be open.

systems over objects

"You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology." — Steve Jobs


Nothing exists without context. Everything from theory to implementation is used within a context, from a perspective that is based on the user's experience and environment. It is part of a system.

Questions you might ask are: how does my idea fit into someone's experience, and how will they use it in relation to their other ideas, knowledge, and tools?

A better understanding of a system yields better understanding of the objects within it. 

 From Whiplash by Joichi Ito & Jeff Howe (c) 2016, published by Grand Central Publishing.

All ideas and quotes are inspired by and from this book. We really recommend you read it!