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The Art of Innovation: Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way Hardcover – 19 Feb 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Business (19 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000710281X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007102815
  • Package Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,360,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


On nearly every page, the story of some upstart invention is recounted in patter that's as good as a skilled magician's.... Almost like visiting an IDEO workshop in person. (Wired)

In light of all the books on the market about creativity, it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to call your book The Art of Innovation. Yet Kelley makes a good case.... Practical, clearly written, and highly detailed. (USA Today)

Tom Kelley has unlocked the magic box of innovation for corporate America. (Bruce Nussbaum BusinessWeek) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

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 possibleaspect 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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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