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The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm Hardcover – January 16, 2001
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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
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
If you are looking for real insights into the IDEO design process you will be disappointed. Most of the insights are of a personnel management nature, and even those are at a relatively high level. Mr. Kelley pokes more than a few veiled barbs at the slow industrial giants who simply cannot compete with the brain power and management prowess at IDEO. That may sound sarcastic, but Mr. Kelley's pride in his company often crosses that fine line into arrogance.
There are a few actual projects described to point out how valuable a certain IDEO practice is. There are repeated references to IDEO's contribution to the invention of the Apple mouse and follow-up work on the Microsoft Mouse. Also, a great deal of time is spent talking about the redesign of the common shopping cart that was done in one week for a segment on Nightline. I know that IDEO has had many important clients and recent important projects. Perhaps they can't talk about them because of non-disclosure agreements. There are color pictures of some products at the beginning of each of 15 chapters but often there is no mention of those products in the text. Some black & white photographs of products and the IDEO workspaces also accompany the text. There are no diagrams or illustrations.Read more ›
It's NOT a granular, specific, detailed guide to product-design best practices.
Nor is it "Give Your Shop The IDEO Makeover In Ten Easy Steps."
What it is, and what it excels at being, is a genial, fast-paced, reasonably persuasive argument in favor of companies that more closely suit the requirements of creative human beings.
Kelley's logic goes something like this:
- gather insightful, motivated human beings, regardless of disciplinary background;
- put them under intense deadline pressure, yet pamper them in ways that reinforce a sense of community;
- challenge them to do great, creative work;
- and stand back as they blow you away with sideways solutions the likes of which the world has never seen.
This might sound like a recipe for a Montessori for middle-aged hippies, except that IDEO's track record is so impressively studded with design breakthroughs that those of us in the field hold them in the highest respect. Not only that, IDEO's designs have proven to be winners in the market, winning over the hardest-nosed of quants.
Kelley successfully makes the case that design is rapidly becoming critical to success in business; that innovation and creativity are the engines of good design; and that environments like the ones IDEO provides for its workers are reasonably reliable incubators of same. If you find yourself engaged by this description, you'll probably, eventually, want more detail than the book is able to provide, but it's a grand place to start.
It is extremely difficult to overcome what James O'Toole characterizes, in Leading Change, as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." He and Kelley seem to be kindred spirits: Both fully understand how and why truly innovative thinking encounters so much resistance within organizations. Whereas O'Toole suggests all manner of strategies to overcome that resistance, Kelley concentrates on the combination ("blend") of ingredients which, when integrated and then applied with both rigor and passion, may (just may) produce what Jobs once referred to as "insanely great.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was enjoyable but I feel some of the examples became slightly repetitive towards the end. Definitely something to be learnt from this book though.Published 1 month ago by Shira
Better than talking about methodologies or recipes to be innovative, this book shows how to create an in notice culture at a company independent of the industry. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Carlos Henrique Lobao Pegurier
I originally purchased this book as a required reading for a college course, so it wasn't something I would've picked up on my own. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Allison
Great book. Read it back in 2001. Will be recommending to my corporate book club series on "innovation".Published 8 months ago by Karen
I love the ideas that Kelley presents in this book. IDEO's practices sound interesting, fun but also fast paced. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Blair Peterson
Got the book from the Stanford D school book List. Great book for any design minded individual or anyone looking to become so.Published 12 months ago by john