Wednesday, June 5, 2002

A Blueprint for Innovation

The cover of The Art of Innovation, by Tom KelleyIt can be argued that IDEO is the world's second leading design firm (do we really need to tell you who's first?). Their contributions to design include the the Palm V, a self sealing water bottle for bikers, improved medical equipment interfaces, and the Apple mouse.

I first discovered IDEO while working on my senior thesis late at night. On Nightline, Ted Koppel gave the firm a unique assignment: Design a better shopping one week. I was so intrigued and impressed by the wide variety of people, the encouragement, the atmosphere, and the raw creativity that I prepped my resume and portfolio before I went to bed. Obviously, I founded Cloudjammer instead, so I won't go into my rant about how irritating it is when people don't call back...

A sample spread from chapter 1, A sample spread from chapter 2, The Art of Innovation: Lesson's in Creativity from Ideo, America's Leading Design Firm, by Tom Kelley, an IDEO Partner, give us a much anticipated window into the thinking and methodology behind this creative powerhouse. With the same simple and thoughtful approach IDEO pursues in their final products, they deliver a book that is both delightful and simple. The book shows us how to build Hot Teams, how to create great products, and (in a chapter which should be posted on the bulletin board of every would-be innovative firm in the country) how to guide a successful and productive brainstorm.

This isn't a how-to or Dummies book. It's short on the much despised bullet lists and is thankfully absent of business-speak. What it does feature is great stories about how problems were tackled and creatively conquered. It's really quite inspiring. I wonder how much of a coincidence it is that only a few months after I read this book Cloudjammer opened it's full-time doors. fb

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