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The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm [Hardcover]

Tom Kelley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 16 2001
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.

Frequently Bought Together

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm + The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization + Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
Price For All Three: CDN$ 77.70

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From Amazon

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

From Publishers Weekly

"Routine is the enemy of innovation," declares Kelley, general manager of IDEO, in this lively and practical guide to nurturing that elusive quality in all organizations. Dubbed "Innovation U." by Fortune and lauded as "the world's most celebrated design firm" by Fast Company, IDEO, through its work on over 3,000 new product programs, has developed a system for staying on the creative cutting edge while keeping clients happy. Kelley handily parses the components of this system--understanding the market, observing real-life users, brainstorming new concepts and developing and refining prototypes on a tight schedule to come up with a commercial product--with examples from the development of such pathbreaking products as the original Apple mouse and the Palm Pilot V. Kelley vividly conveys how "hot teams," assembled for specific projects with concrete goals and deadlines, are the foundation of IDEO's performance-based reputation. While he recognizes that not every organization is a hip design firm, Kelley believes that all organizations can gain an edge by innovating; among the successes he cites are Amazon, Igloo, Shoebox Greetings and Sephora. IDEO has learned and profited from maxims like "Fail often to succeed sooner." Many who previously feared change may answer his unpretentious call to "Start by following your customer journey, breaking it down into component elements, and asking yourself how you can deliver a better experience." Illustrations. (Feb.)Forecast: Featured in a half-hour segment of Nightline last year that ranked among the most popular aired on the show, IDEO's culture of innovation has received broad exposure. This well-written, well-organized and energizing guide will be a magnet for more attention, and could have a shot at business bestseller lists.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I heard an interview with the author, Tom Kelley, on NPR and was fascinated by not only his talent for humorous storytelling, but also the stories he shared about product development at IDEO. After reading a short summary of the book I expected to read many marvelous stories about the process of product innovation, and all the twists and turns it involves - much like the author had discussed on the radio. I wanted to hear about the I-zone camera, the mouse... but to my chagrin, stories like these are only peripheral to the main focus of The Art of Innovation. Unfortunately, this isn't a book about invention - it's a business book, about somewhat dry things like how to run meetings, how to put together teams. However, I dutifully continued through the book, hoping to find more of the anecdotes that I had hoped for, until on page p. 132 it was all revealed in a paragraph that began, "As a management consultant..." What an ephiphany! I wanted to read a book by a designer, a free-spirited thinker, not a managment consultant. This book unfortunately feels more like something my boss would ask me to read for work rather than a peek inside the mind of quirky genius inventors that I would choose for leisure reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars IDEO is awesome! Aug. 5 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
IDEO is such a cool company. Although the book goes through how IDEO goes through different designs (and even citing a challenge to redesign a grocery cart), I found their methodology just as interesting as the company itself.

The biggest take-away I got from this book (and really, what I was looking for before purchasing the book) is how do they come up with all these ideas? I learned that it's a simple matter of making sure your customers get a hands-on with the product or service and then observing how they interact with it, asking them questions about what they would like to see or what frustrates them about it or even, what makes them excited to use it.

In the grocery cart example, they observed people using the grocery cart and they identified several major users of the cart: parents and on the go people. For the parents, they made the carts have bigger child seats and the carts also have a cup holder for their coffee (or baby bottle) if they needed. For the on the go people, they saw that they would often take the baskets instead of the carts so they designed the grocery cart to be able to carry baskets so that people can take the basket, split off, grab the stuff they needed and then come back to the cart.

While walking through IDEO's methodology, they go into interesting anecdotes and case studies they have done and it has a nice way of cementing their ideas and methodology so that you can remember them for later.

It's a new way of looking at design from one of the best design consulting firms in the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a handbook of innovation Oct. 16 2003
It is a handbook for innovation, the book share the experience of IDEO, the methods and the work practice to generate new ideas and the process of turning ideas to product. The first one is observation, people many ignore this point or pay little attention on that point. Tom mentioned a point that, we should user-oriented. Observed people how actually use a product instead of only interview them. Because some of customers are lacking product knowledge they cannot express the difficulty of using the product, even they do not fully utilize the product, so you may only get limited insight from interviewing them only.
I know that many people know the term of Brainstorming, which is a method of ideas generation. However, how to have a good brainstorming is a difficult task.
The third process is making prototype. It helps to solve the problem in 3-D, and let you know the problem or mistake in early stage of the process.
The last insight is about the quality of the team members. They should broad in their skills and interests, deep in their knowledge and experience in one or more disciplines. All these could enhance the cross-pollination. All they should accept the divest within the team.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Not Very Useful April 21 2003
By Arthem
It must be nice to live in IDEO's world. I can imagine that if I had access to the unlimited time and money that seem to permeate IDEO, the question of "how best to innovate" might be a pressing one.
While I don't discount that IDEO started from scratch and became a powerhouse using the methodologies described in the book, I would assert that their techniques and suggestions are only valuable to design firms, consultants, and high-end designers within very large corporations.
Some of the ideas are neat and can be incorporated into other structures - particularly the advice on brainstorming. But much of the work is simply not feasible for the average project or department manager. I do understand the inefficiencies that come from poorly executed innovation, prototyping, etc., but as far as functional guidelines go, a basic Product Design textbook has more useful and more flexible process descriptions.
Nevertheless, the book is at least entertaining, and is probably another route to making loads of dough for the IDEO guys, which, after all, is what IDEO seems to do best!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Innovation Oct. 23 2002
This is an entertaining and accessible read. Tom Kelley lets us in on the IDEO philosophy and approach to innovation in product and service design. While there are more appropriate alternatives for studying the mechanics of new product development such as Cooper's "Winning at New Products, Accelerating the Process from Idea to Launch", this book addresses the often-misunderstood need to create a culture of innovation. IDEO has figured out how to accelerate learning during the "fuzzy front end" of new product development. A great book for inspiring anyone involved in the new product development process.
Kelly includes memorable labels such as the seven brainstorming steps,
1. Sharpen the Focus
2. Playful Rules
3. Number Your Ideas
4. Build and Jump
5. The Space Remembers
6. Stretch Your Mental Muscles
7. Get Physical
He also includes wonderful examples and stories. The production quality is what you would expect from a design group-great photos and layout. Even the paper feels good.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the way I would run my company
This should be the first book you read when you get out of college. Much of what Tom Kelley says would probably make your boss turn away, going against many theorems taught in... Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Phillip Klien
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time.
Reading this book is a waste of time. I know, It is tough to explain how someone can do innovating thinking etc. But this book does not help any. Read books on mindmapping instead.
Published on May 8 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Good food for thought, but not terribly practical
Ideo is a fascinating company, and just reading about its adventures and ways is enjoyable. Beyond that, this is a great book to give you some creative nudges. Read more
Published on April 30 2003 by James McCarthy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stories but not clear how it can help daily innovation
Dr. Ali Alwattari review - the "Art of Innovation" book describes parts of the human experience of innovation and is appropriately called the "art" of... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2003 by Ali Alwattari
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
This book is great for anyone who wants to have the inside scoop on how to create innovative products. IDEO is the premier industrial design house in the country. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2002 by Consumer Product Engineer
4.0 out of 5 stars For innovating or for recruiting?
The book is an attempt to explain innovation through a highly hyped company. Tom Peters calls IDEO "the only other company I'd ever work for. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2002 by therosen
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I worked here :)
I am a designer, and naturally am at awe at all the creative things around me. Usually creativity is everywhere, but it does seem very concentrated around IDEO's offices :)
I... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2002 by RG Seattle
5.0 out of 5 stars This BOOK is awesome!
This book has litterally changed my life. It made me really start thinking about everything and how to make it better. The insight and mental exercise is very replenishing. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by Pulp Fiction
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but couldn't keep me interested through all of it
This book is packed with tips on how IDEO carries on its creative process, which is interesting, considering the design firm's prestige. Read more
Published on July 6 2002 by Manny Hernandez
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