What is the C-K Theory?

The C-K Theory is a logic framework that explains how, in a natural or planned way, new ideas are conceived and designed.

  • Its name is an acronym for “Concept – Knowledge”, the two main pillars on which this theory is based.


According to this theory, new Ideas are conceived, or can be found by interconnecting:

  • Concepts.
    • Ideas to explore or Goals to achieve.
      • These concepts can be as imaginative as you want: there are no limitations when thinking about concepts.


  • Knowledge.
    • What is proven, well studied and documented.
      • It represents a solid base on which you can build your Concepts or Ideas.

How to use C-K Theory

  1. Write an Idea that you would like to delve into, or a Goal that you would like to achieve.
  2. Find the knowledge you need to develop this concept.
  3. Apply this knowledge to the Idea and study what other new Concepts you can get.
  4. Delve into those concepts that seem most promising.
  5. Repeat the cycle.


This Theory can be used for many different things and in very different ways.


We have proposed you a simplified version so that you can use it in your projects.

  • C-K Theory is often explained in a very technical… and difficult way.

* Remember: It is better to have a simplified but useful tool rather than a complete but confusing one.


Now, let’s see the first example:

C-K Theory example


When 3M invented its legendary “Post-it” they where not exactly looking for this product.


They were trying to find a new super strong glue.

  • But, instead, they  found this new soft and reusable glue.


They discovered this new product by accident but, if you think about it, the logic process they went through (unwittingly) was very similar to the C-K Theory.


  • 1st Idea: Find a Super strong Glue.
    • Concept found: Soft reusable glue.
  • 2nd Idea: Develop Markers.
    • Knowledge necessary: Applications and materials.

Final Product: Post-It.


C-K Theory framework – Post-it example.

As you may be thinking, many inventions have been made “by mistake.”


But the inventors were open to finding new things.

  • That is what C-K Theory is about.


Then, why should you care about this theory?

Isn’t it just describing a natural process?

Why is the C-K Theory important?

Like many other important frameworks, C-K theory describes a process that generally occurs naturally.


However, we recommend using the C-K model because:

  • It encourages you to be open to new Concepts.
  • It highlights the importance of contrasting new Concepts with solid Knowledge.
  • It forces you to be structured.
  • You can track the paths followed and the results obtained.


Most people innovate in an anarchic way.

  • By following the C-K theory, you can increase your chances of success.

Let’s now explain when you should use the C-K framework:

When should you use the C-K model?

We recommend to use this framework:

  • If you want to launch a completely new product.
  • If you want to explore new Ideas.
  • If you want to set very ambitious (and innovative) goals.


Moreover, if you are a curious person, we recommend that you start “researching” new concepts about something that you find interesting.

  • For no particular purpose.

This way you will get used to thinking in a structured and solid way.

C-K Theory examples

We’ll now share some examples with you.


Let’s begin:

Building a Website - C-K Theory example


For this example, we’ll imagine that you are planning to start your own second-hand movie business.


As soon as you start researching the “movie business” (trends, prices, main competitors, etc) you find out that small Businesses that Focus on a Niche do better.

  • It makes sense: the general public buys from large companies (Amazon, or their local shops).
    • They have the best prices for popular movies.


Then, you have an Idea: You’ll Focus on second-hand indie/alternative movies.


You decide to delve into this sector and acquire as much knowledge as you can to be sure of this decision.


Once you are sure about it, and how you will do it, you decide to start IndieMovies.com.


C-K Theory framework – Movie business example.

Choosing a Career - C-K Theory example


Now, let’s imagine you are thinking about your career.

  • You are sure to become a lawyer: you simply love it.


But, since you are a very smart person, you would like to focus on the future problems that lawyers will face.

  • This way, you’ll be ahead of everyone else.


Then, your first Idea-Goal is: become a lawyer focused on future problems.


As you start researching current and future trends, specializations… You discover that New technologies will play a huge role in the world of laws.


Then, you have your second-more-polished Idea: You’ll focus on Machine regulations.

  • As more jobs are automated, unions will put pressure on governments to regulate how companies use machines.
    • Think about the autonomous truck, for example.


After studying the subject in depth, you are sure: you will focus on the laws of Machine Regulation.


C-K Theory example – Choosing a professional career.

Starting a Restaurant - C-K Theory example


For this last example, let’s say that you are planning to start your own Restaurant.

  • Since there are thousands of different (and good) restaurants, you would like to do what nobody does.


That is your first Idea: To Start an Innovative Restaurant.


After researching new and old trends, preferences… you discover that in the past, food was very different.

  • And some Dishes have been lost for decades.


So, your second Idea comes up: Could you start a traditional ancient-food Restaurant?


After researching ancient recipes, ingredients… You decide to start your Old-forgotten food Restaurant.

  • Plus, you have good news: you have no competitors.


C-K Theory example – Starting your own Restaurant.


The C-K Theory is a method that explains how new ideas are conceived and designed.


According to this theory, new Ideas are conceived by interconnecting:

  • Concepts.
    • Ideas to explore or Goals to achieve.
  • Knowledge.
    • What is proven, well studied and documented.


We recommend to use this framework:

  • To launch a completely new product.
  • To explore new Ideas.
  • To set very ambitious (and innovative) goals.


* Remember: The innovation process tends to be anarchic.

  • The C-K theory offers you a method to follow that can increase your chances of success.

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