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

Tom Peters , Tom Kelley , Jonathan Littman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; First Edition edition (1 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385499841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385499842
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 668,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Discover the ten commandments of creativity, and much more…

Founded by Thomas Kelley and his brother David (dubbed by Fortune the best inventor since Thomas Edison), IDEO is responsible for the first commercial mouse, a virtual reality headset for Sega and the handheld Audible Mobile Player – a new device that downloads recorded books from the Internet. The company was recently challenged by US TV programme Nightline to redesign a traditional shopping trolley in just 4 days in front of the cameras. They took up the challenge with alacrity and produced a radically new design incorporating six small portable baskets fitted into the frame, an improved child’s seat with play area, and back wheels that turn at 90 degrees so you can move your trolley sideways.

The book explores their unique corporate culture which encourages original and creative ideas to develop. IDEO is structured around small design studios, which are seen as ‘villages’, each with their own identity. But all of their office furniture is on wheels which provides fluidity as individuals move between projects wherever their expertise is needed.

IDEO’s methods are based on revolutionary principles of team creativity, inlcuding:
• The best asset you have is your own brain
• The first step in building a fresh and creative corporate culture is the willingness to change
• Collaboration – not isolation – is the key to unleashing creativity
• Successful brainstorming sessions are based on focused chaos

Increased creativity leads to increased profits in the business world of today, and The Art of Innovation demonstrates how to boost morale, productivity and customer satisfaction – and enjoy yourself in the process.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Thomas Kelley is the co-founder, with his brother David, of IDEO, a highly innovative design company with offices worldwide. He has an MBA from Berkley and has also worked for General Electric and as a management consultant.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Innovation wasn't always a hot topic in the Silicon Valley. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovation - the art of the paradigm 21 April 2001
By Mwmbwls
It has been a good year for students of innovation. First Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point" described how ideas and concepts grow and are absorbed into society. Richard Leifer and his colleagues then followed up with "Radical Innovation" exploring the barriers to innovation within large organisations and how to break the mould. Jeffrey Pfeffer then followed in "The Knowing Doing Gap" with a blue print for breaking organisational inertia. Michael Schrage in "Serious Play" demonstrated the virtues of rapid prototyping and the provocative effect on thinking of a progressive prototyping method. A leading innovation practitioner Tom Kelley in "The Art of Innovation", (not Art through Innovation as it is confusingly catalogued by Amazon) now amply demonstrates and reinforces the key themes advocated by these experts.
The key strength of this book is Kelley's hands-on experience that crackles through every page. This book is not permeated by academic detachment but a bubbling and infectious enthusiasm.
He provides practical guidance as to how to get the best out of brainstorming. His list of pathologies that are bound to kill off a brainstorming session will seem familiar to many.
Kelley advocates prototyping as the shorthand of innovation, together with the benefits of direct observation and reconnaissance. IDEO recognise that people are their greatest asset and go to great lengths to live their values. He describes the pivotal conjunction of people and teams and context and how these are all are geared to maximise interaction - IDEO's Munich office was opened by an employee who sought forgiveness rather than permission. As an organisation IDEO has to impress its clients with its avant-garde image du marc. Whilst Kelley and friends have an impressive list of product successes under their belt their greatest achievement has to be creating the paradigm that is IDEO - or in the words from "Flash-dance" "take your passion and make it happen".
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, but skim in places 14 Nov 2002
There's some good thought provoking ideas that are well structured, but at times you feel a little swamped by the sheer number of IDEO case studies. Each section of the book has some good nuggets of information which are generally worded in a way to help you see their wider application. Overall it's a good balance between the theory and demonstrating practical application. Worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovation for Fun as Well as Profit 20 Jan 2006
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn from the masters of innovation 9 Nov 2001
By A Customer
It's not without reason that Tom Peters always mentions IDEO as most innovative company. Having seen their funky and innovative offices but more important being involved in the way they work I can tell you; these guys know how to be innovative. In his book Kelley has very well succeeded in transferring that knowledge in a clear and non-boring way.
The book is an excellent combination to read with Clayt Christensen's Innovators dilemma that goes into why established companies are having a hard time dealing with innovation. If you add Alex Loudon's Webs of Innovation to that, this book goes into how you can set up new ways to innovate in established companies, you got a power pack to make sure your company has got all it takes to be innovative. Because these days the theme is innovate or evaporate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring stories of innovation 3 Feb 2009
This is a great book. Probably the most inspiring book about innovation that I have read in a long time. I defy anyone not to be moved to action by such infectious story telling.

The book is a collection of case studies and vignettes that illustrate how IDEO view innovation. One of my favourites is the shopping trolley challenge. The brief was to completely redesign the old, familiar shopping trolley in just five days. The almost blow-by-blow account of those five days shows you what can be done with a clear focus and a dedicated team.

The IDEO beliefs are clearly presented. Chapter 3 is called "Innovation begins with an eye" and describes how they rely on observation-fueled insight and why they are not big fans of focus groups. IDEO also believe that innovation is a team sport, indeed that the myth of the lone genius can actually hamper a company's efforts in innovation and creativity. The story of the start-up of Amazon is a lesson in rapid prototyping. And there's much more.

There are also some terrific descriptions of the early days of portable computing and handhelds. Of course you'll find the ubiquitous Apple tales but in many ways I found the Handspring and Palm cases to be more interesting. There's a helpful index too so that you can find them again when you need a good story for your next workshop.

The one I find myself retelling the most is the kids Oral-B toothbrush. For decades kids toothbrushes have been smaller versions of adult brushes. The IDEO team put brushes in the hands of children and they quickly noticed the "fist phenomenon". Little kids grip the brush with their whole fist, unlike older kids and adults, who use their fingertips.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Print size too small
I can't make a comment on the content as I haven't read the book yet, indeed I am not sure that I will get to read the book because the typeface is just so small. Read more
Published 5 months ago by David Bradshaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Fail
This book promises a lot and delivers very little. I am about 40 pages into it and am considering giving up. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Asthenia
4.0 out of 5 stars Handbook for new entrepreneurs
This book is really good for people who would like to learn all critical processes of innovation. With used examples, you understand how you apply them for your project. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mehmet Gurkan Guler
5.0 out of 5 stars Approach things differently
Should you get this book to help you improve your innovative thinking process? Yes.
Tom provides many real life examples and many different approaches that you can take on... Read more
Published 7 months ago by U. Sule
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring stuff
Very readable, entertaining and informative. IDEO innovate through a combination of intensive, frequent brainstorming (something I've always been dubious about, but want to try... Read more
Published 21 months ago by T. Day
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting, for a change
It is sad to say that, as a business writer, I read few business books. The reason is that the vast majority are bad: either they wildly exaggerate the novelty, hence the... Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2011 by rob crawford
4.0 out of 5 stars Good tips to boost innovation and creativity at work
What are the topics that inspire me:
- Innovation begins with an eye - the importance of consumer observation to innovate successfully
- 7 secrets for better... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2011 by franci69
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring innovation
This is a great book, telling IDEO's story about how to innovate. In a sense, it is like the biography of a company. Read more
Published on 9 May 2010 by Norberto Amaral
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read!
This is a little gem of a book for anyone interested in innovation. It focuses on the work of IDEO (one of the most renowned and innovative design companies in the world) and... Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2008 by S. Gale
3.0 out of 5 stars Dont live up to full potential..
I am a Product Designer working for a London based Design Consultancy.

I bought this book because of my personal interest in innovation and the design process, wondering... Read more
Published on 13 April 2008 by G. Bevis
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