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The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm Hardcover – 16 January 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 262 ratings

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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

Review

Advance praise for The Art of Innovation:

"Tom Kelley has unlocked the magic box of innovation for corporate America. At a time when creativity and innovation are the driving forces for the New Economy, Kelley shows how IDEO does it - and how companies everywhere can learn to build the products and services we all crave. If you're trying to create product lust, The Art of Innovation shows you how to do it."
-- Bruce Nussbaum, Business Week

"Everyone talks about innovation and creativity, but IDEO has actually done it. The Art of Innovation provides detailed, actionable ideas about how to build an innovative culture and an organization that makes creativity seem routine. Its well-placed emphasis on management practices makes it a great read for anyone in any organization who wants to get better at what
they do."
-- Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Business School, and author of The Knowing-Doing Gap

What the world has been saying about IDEO:

"IDEO Product Development is the world's most celebrated design firm. Its ultimate creation is the process of creativity itself. For founder David M. Kelley and his colleagues, work is play, brainstorming is a science, and the most important rule is to break the rules... Can this formula for creativity work in other places? Some of the world's leading companies certainly think so."
-- Fast Company

"One of the hottest product development firms on the planet."
-- Production Magazine

"The fuel that starts the design engine is innovation, and, for once, the creative and business departments seem to agree: innovation is good. By definition, design is about change; this is what drives clients to IDEO. For the people at IDEO, change is interchangeable with progress."
-- Graphis3 magazine

"The ultimate candy store for design-technology-creativity buffs."
-- Tom Peters, On Excellence

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Currency (16 January 2001)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0385499841
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0385499842
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 748 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 16.61 x 2.97 x 24.21 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262 ratings

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Tom Kelley is general manager of IDEO, the world's leading design consultancy specializing in product development and innovation. Working together with his brother, IDEO founder David Kelley, he has helped manage the firm, as it has grown from twenty designers to a staff of over three hundred. During that time, he has been responsible for diverse areas such as business development, marketing, human resources, and operations. Like everyone else at IDEO, he also occasionally gets down on his knees to cut foam core alongside IDEO clients and designers, as part of the firm's brainstorming and prototyping efforts.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
262 global ratings
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Top reviews from other countries

NL
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Innovation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 May 2018
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S. Gale
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 August 2008
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Phil
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 December 2018
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DylanJaimz
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, great message
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 January 2016
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A. J. Winskill
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, if starting to read like an old ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 November 2016
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3 people found this helpful
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