Art of Innovation

date Sep 23, 2010
authors Tom Kelly
reading time 3 mins
  • Book Title: The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm
  • Author: Tom Kelly, General Manager of IDEO
  • Book Source: Amazon
  • Some extracts:

Netting a bug list…

When you are off your own beaten path, however, you are more open to discovery: when you travel, especially overseas, when you rent an unfamiliar car; when you try a new sport or experience a new activity. At those times you are more open to ask the childlike “Why?” and “Why not?” questions that lead to innovation. Whenever you are in that new-to-the-experience mode, I urge you to pay close attention and even take notes about your impressions, creations and questions. Especially the problems, the things that bug you. We call these mental and jotted-down observations “bug lists” and they can change your life.

Keeping close to the action….

Why so many high-tech companies have emerged form Silicon Valley - and not connecticut or even New York. New ideas come from seeing, smelling, hearing - being there. … Asking questions of people who were there, who should know, often isn’t enough. It doesn’t matter how smart they are, how well they know the product or the opportunities. It doesn’t matter how many astute questions they ask If you are not in the jungle, you’re not going to know the tiger.


Successful innovations recognize that people don’t always do the “right” thing or make the necessary leaps to bridge the gap between familiar and genuinely new ideas. Widespread adoption often takes time. Astute observation is one way to shorten that cycle and make trade-offs that users will accept.

7 Secrets for better brainstorming…

  1. Sharpen the focus
  2. Playful rules
  3. Number your ideas
  4. Build and Jump
  5. The space remembers - cover virtually every wall and flat surface with paper before the session starts. That way you won’t find yourself in the awkward position of having to erase ideas to make room for more.
  6. Stretch your mental muscles
  7. Get Physical

6 ways to kill a brainstormer…

  1. The boss gets to speak first
  2. Everyone gets a turn
  3. Experts only please
  4. Do it off-site - Don’t get me wrong: off-sites are fine. But remember, you want the buzz of creativity to blow thorugh your offices as regularly as a breeze at the beach.
  5. No silly stuff
  6. Write down everything

Abundance of ideas….

There’s something terribly liberating about applying an abundance mentality to your ideas, thinking and work. There’s a Zen-like force here at play: The less you strive to control ideas and insist on credit for those that are yours, the more good ideas you’re likely to have 0 and see implemented. it’s why we believe in brainstorming. Good things happen when you willingly take your best ideas and pour them into the mix.

Hot teams perform…

The celebrated music teacher has a unique strategy for getting the best out of this students. On the first day, he tells his first year students that they all get an A. There’s one condition. Their first assignment is to write a letter to him - date on the last day of the class - explaining why they deserved the grade.

8 crazy characters for hot groups:

  1. The Visionary
  2. The Troubleshooter
  3. The Iconoclast
  4. The Pulse Taker
  5. The Craftsman
  6. The Technologist
  7. The Entrepreneur
  8. The Cross-Dresser

7 Planting tips:

  1. Subscribe and Surf - browse internet/magazines for idea wading
  2. Play Director - Like a film director break down the world into scenes and become expert at watching people perform even the smallest tasks
  3. Hold an Open House -
  4. Inspire Advocates
  5. Hire Outsiders
  6. Change Hats
  7. Cross-Train - Some athletes improve their performance in an event by training in multiple sports

Creativity Checklist: Barriers vs. Bridges

  1. Hierarchy based vs. Merit-Based
  2. Bureaucracy Vs. Autonomy
  3. Anonymous vs Familiar
  4. Clean vs Messy
  5. Experts vs Tinkerers

How to create great products and services:

  1. Make a great entrance
  2. Make metaphors
  3. Think brief case (nowadays is laptop!)
  4. Colour Inspires
  5. Backstage Pass
  6. One click is better than 1
  7. Good-proof
  8. First, do no harm
  9. Checklist
  10. Great Extra