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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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The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm + Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All + The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (January 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385499841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385499842
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

This book is one of the most inspiring and entertaining books I have read on business.
Cristian Guajardo Garcia
IDEO is known for their innovative creations like a "modern" shopping cart, but this book talks about the importance of understanding the process for being creative.
Greg Bergida
There was not really a good reason to write a this book except for letting us know how incredible IDEO is.
Mariano G. Undank

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Funk on October 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Art of Innovation is the story of the famous Palo Alto based design firm, IDEO. The book is easy to read and moves quickly. The author, Tom Kelley, is the brother of founder David Kelley. Tom is the General Manager and is an ex-management consultant. This is important because the book really devolves into a light treatise on business management practices. This makes sense since given Tom Kelley's responsibilities at IDEO and his background. It also explains the Tom Peter's Foreword. If you like Tom Peter's books, you will enjoy this book.
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.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Adam Greenfield on June 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
First, let me say what this book is not:
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.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are dozens of excellent books which discuss innovation. This is one of the best but don't be misled by the title, "Lessons in creativity from IDEO, America's leading design firm." Unlike almost all other authors of worthy books on the same subject, Kelley does NOT organize his material in terms of a sequence of specific "lessons"...nor does he inundate his reader with checklists, "executive summaries", bullet points, do's and don'ts, "key points", etc. Rather, he shares what I guess you could characterize as "stories" based on real-world situations in which he and his IDEO associates solved various problems when completing industrial design assignments for their clients. "We've linked those organizational achievements to specific methodologies and tools you can use to build innovation into your own organization...[However, IDEO's] `secret formula' is actually not very formulaic. It's a blend of of methodologies, work practices, culture, and infrastructure. Methodology alone is not enough." One of the greatest benefits of the book is derived from direct access to that "blend" when activated.
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.
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