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The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm by Tom Kelley was written in 2001 and it is amazing how just 10 years can make a book’s examples feel so dated. IDEO is one of the greatest ‘idea’ companies of all time, but technology examples in this book made it feel very dated and out of touch to me.

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it during my commute. The production quality is absolutely horrible. It may have to do with the production standards of audio books in 2001 versus the current standards. I was not impressed by the audio quality or the narrator’s method for identifying chapters and sections.

If you can get past all that, this is a really good book. The methods described on how to be innovative, how to brainstorm, how get creative ideas flowing, and how to have a company that is focused on creating great products for customers are all great and I believe they would be effective at any company.

I really enjoyed hearing how IDEO uses prototyping to fail early. Failing early is a philosophy I have been interested in for a couple of months now and the idea of using quick prototypes that can be shared with the team and with customers has become a recurring theme in the books I have been reading. Web design and development books are encouraging user centered designs that use prototypes and quick usability tests to discover what works and what doesn’t work quickly and cheaply.

Also, the content on brainstorming was good; it reinforced the format and rules for holding useful sessions that I have learned elsewhere. I really like the idea of having a room with the brainstorming rules painted on the walls. I may make some banners to hang on the walls before my team holds our sessions.

From the publisher:

There isn’t a business in America that doesn’t want to be more creative in their 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.

I rate this book a 6 out of 10 keeping in mind that it includes sections that I would rate a 9.

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