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The Art of Innovation

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The Art of Innovation

Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm

Doubleday Broadway,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Lessons in creativity from the firm that designed the Apple mouse and the Palm handheld.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


With his tour through the inner workings of design firm and idea factory IDEO, Tom Kelley achieves the nearly impossible: He presents creative and innovative observations about creativity and innovation. Toss aside ordinary innovation books and tear into this beautifully constructed showpiece. Kelley distills the often amorphous concepts of brainstorming and teamwork into directives with honest-to-goodness real-life applications. His notions about prototyping are fresh, insightful and practical. His bigger-picture ruminations illustrate not only how organizations should work at innovation, but also how easily dumb bureaucracy can smash creative initiative. If the book has one failing it is that reading it can be a bit like watching a home movie of a friend's children: Your role is clearly to join in the adulation. That aside, getAbstract recommends this treatise as one of the few can't-miss books in the creativity genre.


Outsourcing Innovation

Why do companies outsource their creative and design functions? Experience points to four main reasons:

  1. "Capacity" – The number of ideas that they require is more than they can afford to generate internally.
  2. "Speed" – They could do it themselves, but they need it done faster.
  3. "Expertise" – The level of expertise in a certain area is not high enough and therefore, need outside help.
  4. "Innovation" – They want partners who can think outside the box.

In recent years, innovation has become the primary factor. During that shift, IDEO, the heralded innovation company, has refined its creative methodology, which follows these steps:

  • Understanding – "You must understand the market, the technology, the client and the perceived constraints affecting the problem." While the constraints may be challenged later in the process, beginning with a firm understanding is important.
  • Observation – Watch the people who are affected and study their behavior toward the issue at hand. See where their needs are going unmet...

About the Authors

Tom Kelley is the general manager of IDEO, a design consultancy specializing in product development and innovation. Jonathan Littmann wrote The Fugitive Game and The Watchman, and contributes to Red Herring magazine.

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