The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm Hardcover – Jan 16 2001
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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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
So the question begging to be asked are...
Is this book about innovation or recruiting?
And is IDEO really that good?
To answer the first, it seems a little bit of both. Since the book is written by insiders, you'll get what they think the secret to success is. Note - It's not an academic "Here's how innovation works" tome, it's "Here's what we thinks works"
As for IDEO really being that good? The book will convince you that you want to work there. Reality is IDEO has been hit by these troubled times like everyone else. I'd be interested in what The Vault has to say about them now.
Is the book an interesting read on design and innovation? Yes!
Will it make you a great innovator? Probably not. It's interesting, but lacks the key "Gotcha" insights.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2010 by Wang Yip
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 morePublished on July 5 2004 by Phillip Klien
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
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 morePublished on April 30 2003 by James McCarthy
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 morePublished on Jan. 4 2003 by Ali Alwattari
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 morePublished on Dec 11 2002 by Consumer Product Engineer
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
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 morePublished on Aug. 8 2002 by Pulp Fiction
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