Customer Review

124 of 132 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less than expected, October 4, 2001
This review is from: The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm (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.
A great deal of the book outlines the emphasis that IDEO puts on the treatment of their employees and their penchant for quick and frequent prototyping as a key to success. All projects start by assigning a "hot" team and letting them brainstorm and prototype their way into some great ideas. No details are given on how the teams are formed or managed.
This book is for you if you are looking for a light management practices book and just a little insight into a premier design firm. You will probably be disappointed if you want to find out how products are designed or what specific processes are used to manage the design process. You also will not get a great deal of competitive information about IDEO. The book assumes that you have at least a general idea of what Industrial Design is about.
Tom Kelley admits that workshops about the "IDEO way" have been turned into a profit center. They give seminars on how to organize product development at client companies. I could see IDEO including this book with their seminar, or perhaps they could give it to a prospective client to whet their appetite. It definitely leaves you wanting more information. I am left wondering, "How much is that seminar, and will they let me in?"
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Initial post: Oct 17, 2013 8:51:30 AM PDT
Thank you for your review and this information. I appreciate it because I just saw the brothers this morning on CBS and understood the book to be about creativity - the creative process of the brain, some tips about how to think creatively, and that WONDERFUL truth that drawing is a learned skill like playing a piano. Based on that last statement alone, I was itching to buy the book. I think I'll continue looking because I was really looking for insight into the creative process of the brain.
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