Knowledge, Imagination and Evaluation

Photo by Nikhil Mitra

Photo by Nikhil Mitra

Last week, Strategy Innovation Group, had the privilege of co-teaching a class on The Entrepreneurship Process at Brown University with Professor Danny Warshay for the 24th consecutive semester – among the highlights of any year!

While the focus of the class is a Harvard Business School case titled, “Corporate New Ventures at Procter & Gamble”, this time we also introduced a Creativity Formula conceived by mathematician and creativity scholar Ruth Noller.

We believe it elegantly captures the necessary elements for inspiration:


K represents the knowledge input.

I represents the level of imagination required.

E represents a capability for an open-minded evaluation.

All are powerfully influenced by the a for attitude in addressing the problem or opportunity – open to possibility or self-limiting.


We believe looking through this creativity formula lens is especially useful when assessing a team’s or organization’s capability to create and innovate.

  • How supportive is the climate (attitude) for new thinking and new connections?

  • Is there sufficient expertise (knowledge) to recognize the innovation?  

  • Is the group capable of unleashing their imagination?

  • Will ideas be evaluated in a way that captures, protects and advances the new value created?

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Photo by Tim Mossholder


What do you think of Ruth Noller’s formula?

Let us know below in the comments section.

The Brown University Entrepreneur students seemed to like it a lot.

About Ruth Noller

Ruth Noller served in the Navy during WW II and was stationed at Harvard University as one of the first programers of an IBM mainframe computer, loaned to the Navy for the war effort. Ruth kept the daily computer log with handwritten entries. One day, after the computer crashed, Ruth pinned the culprit, a moth, to the top of the page of her log book. Today all computer problems are known as “bugs”!