The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm
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IDEO, the widely admired, award-winning design and development firm that brought the world the Apple mouse, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera, the Palm V, and hundreds of other cutting-edge products and services, reveals its secrets for fostering a culture and process of continuous innovation.
There isn't a business in America that doesn't want to be more creative in its thinking, products, and processes. At many companies, being first with a concept and first to market are critical just to survive. In The Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley, general manager of the Silicon Valley based design firm IDEO, takes readers behind the scenes of this wildly imaginative and energized company to reveal the strategies and secrets it uses to turn out hit after hit.
IDEO doesn't buy into the myth of the lone genius working away in isolation, waiting for great ideas to strike. Kelley believes everyone can be creative, and the goal at his firm is to tap into that wellspring of creativity in order to make innovation a way of life. How does it do that? IDEO fosters an atmosphere conducive to freely expressing ideas, breaking the rules, and freeing people to design their own work environments. IDEO's focus on teamwork generates countless breakthroughs, fueled by the constant give-and-take among people ready to share ideas and reap the benefits of the group process. IDEO has created an intense, quick-turnaround, brainstorm-and-build process dubbed "the Deep Dive."
In entertaining anecdotes, Kelley illustrates some of his firm's own successes (and joyful failures), as well as pioneering efforts at other leading companies. The book reveals how teams research and immerse themselves in every possible aspect of a new product or service, examining it from the perspective of clients, consumers, and other critical audiences.
Kelley takes the reader through the IDEO problem-solving method:
> Carefully observing the behavior or "anthropology" of the people who will be using a product or service
> Brainstorming with high-energy sessions focused on tangible results
> Quickly prototyping ideas and designs at every step of the way
> Cross-pollinating to find solutions from other fields
> Taking risks, and failing your way to success
> Building a "Greenhouse" for innovation
IDEO has won more awards in the last ten years than any other firm of its kind, and a full half-hour Nightline presentation of its creative process received one of the show's highest ratings. The Art of Innovation will provide business leaders with the insights and tools they need to make their companies the leading-edge, top-rated stars of their industries.
IDEO, the world's leading design firm, is the brain trust that's behind some of the more brilliant innovations of the past 20 years--from the Apple mouse, the Polaroid i-Zone instant camera, and the Palm V to the "fat" toothbrush for kids and a self-sealing water bottle for dirt bikers. Not surprisingly, companies all over the world have long wondered what they could learn from IDEO, to come up with better ideas for their own products, services, and operations. In this terrific book from IDEO general manager Tom Kelley (brother of founder David Kelley), IDEO finally delivers--but thankfully not in the step-by-step, flow-chart-filled "process speak" of most how-you-can-do-what-we-do business books. Sure, there are some good bulleted lists to be found here--such as the secrets of successful brainstorming, the qualities of "hot teams," and, toward the end, 10 key ingredients for "How to Create Great Products and Services," including "One Click Is Better Than Two" (the simpler, the better) and "Goof Proof" (no bugs).
But The Art of Innovation really teaches indirectly (not to mention enlightens and entertains) by telling great stories--mainly, of how the best ideas for creating or improving products or processes come not from laboriously organized focus groups, but from keen observations of how regular people work and play on a daily basis. On nearly every page, we learn the backstories of some now-well-established consumer goods, from recent inventions like the Palm Pilot and the in-car beverage holder to things we nearly take for granted--like Ivory soap (created when a P&G worker went to lunch without turning off his soap mixer, and returned to discover his batch overwhipped into 99.44 percent buoyancy) and Kleenex, which transcended its original purpose as a cosmetics remover when people started using the soft paper to wipe and blow their noses. Best of all, Kelley opens wide the doors to IDEO's vibrant, sometimes wacky office environment, and takes us on a vivid tour of how staffers tackle a design challenge: they start not with their ideas of what a new product should offer, but with the existing gaps of need, convenience, and pleasure with which people live on a daily basis, and that IDEO should fill. (Hence, a one-piece children's fishing rod that spares fathers the embarrassment of not knowing how to teach their kids to fish, or Crest toothpaste tubes that don't "gunk up" at the mouth.)
Granted, some of their ideas--like the crucial process of "prototyping," or incorporating dummy drafts of the actual product into the planning, to work out bugs as you go--lend themselves more easily to the making of actual things than to the more common organizational challenge of streamlining services or operations. But, if this big book of bright ideas doesn't get you thinking of how to build a better mousetrap for everything from your whole business process to your personal filing system, you probably deserve to be stuck with the mousetrap you already have. --Timothy Murphy
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