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The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  8,128 ratings  ·  196 reviews
IDEO, the widely admired, award-winning design and development firm that brought the world the Apple mouse, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera, the Palm V, and hundreds of other cutting-edge products and services, reveals its secrets for fostering a culture and process of continuous innovation.

There isn't a business in America that doesn't want to be more creative in its thi
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 16th 2001 by Broadway Business
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  8,128 ratings  ·  196 reviews


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Iftekhar Alam Himel
Mar 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Too many words, too few ideas.

I value a non-fiction work on its steep learning curve, proper data & facts and precise construction. I cannot say that the book performed very well in all criteria.

The book does offer good insights into product development & pave ways into creative process. But the construction could have been more organized. Well you can forgive that for a first book & the fact that it is about “creative process”.

It does lack insights driven by proper data/facts. All that insight
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Michael Moseley
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a good set of innovations that the Ideo had been involved in over the years. It begun really interestingly but seemed to go on anf on in the same vain. I am nit sure how much I got out of the examples. There seemed to be less insite in to the process of innovcation how to be more innovative in a modern world.
Gray Dougherty
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
A primarily self indulgent and meandering collection of now outdated anecdotes. There a few nuggets that could probably be summarized in about 20 pages, so it gets 2 stars purely for that. The Palm V is amazing!
Ron Banister
Dec 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Great insight into the creative process. Updates to follow...
Garland Vance
The Art of Innovation tells the story of IDEO brainstorm, design and launch cycles that have led to some of the most creative innovations in the world. Sounds interesting, right? It's not. Of the 15 chapters, I found 2 or 3 of them interesting and insightful. There were two problems that I found. First, the book was written almost a decade ago, so the innovative products about which they tell stories are now dinosaurs. This, of course, cannot be helped unless they update the book each year. But ...more
Vlad
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Some excellent advice. But now feels dated, with references to defunct businesses, old fads, and technological dead ends. Also a little too heavy on the “hire IDEO” promotional language.
Sijmen Mulder
Mar 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting ideas that would have fit well in a short blog post, interspersed with lots of self congratulatory anecdotes for padding and 20/20 hindsight.
Kristoffer
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book in 2001 when it first came out. I've used parts of it again and again throughout the years, in my design practice and then in teaching design. In an effort to actually finish books I've once started to read, I've enjoyed the remainder and am now done with this one after a record 19 years. Though parts have understandably become dated, enough of the content remains as classic design and innovation wisdom. And so I would still recommend The Art of Innovation as a popular primer. ...more
Divya U
Nov 30, 2021 rated it did not like it
Have some interesting tidbits but struggled to finish it.
Gergely
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
It feels a bit like a corporate autobiography, with its many stories, looking back how things worked before, like leafing through an interesting photo album at a friend's house.

Still, I did take away quite a few notes, that seem to influence my thinking in general, almost right away.
- I feel like I became more observant, things around me offer more opportunities
- I like the idea of "everything can be improved", and it gives me a fresh look
- Prototype early, prototype often
- So many different way
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Gail
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite being 17 years old, I thought there was a lot of great information in this book. I recommend this book to any entrepreneur or certainly anyone managing a team. They would benefit from the author's tips on creating an environment that encourages creativity and values experimenting. I think most businesses are blind to the impact their culture has on both what and how employees work. I found Thomas' writing to be inspiring and encouraging -- everything can be improved upon. When you start ...more
Shatha Alemadi
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
a little bit boring :|
Yvonne
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018

While many of the examples (e.g. Palm V) were dated, this book remained a very interesting read. Through ample supply of fun stories, I got a glimpse of the day in and out of innovators' life at Ideo.



While design thinking becomes very popular these days and there are many workshops offering the experience (e.g. in 1 - 2 days) in a more defined and succinct way, it becomes even more valuable for me to learn about where the history/the journey/the enthusiasm was rooted. Just like how I think ab

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Anežka Svobodová
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The anecdotes from IDEO are fun to read about. However the book seems to be only a collection of such stories of what they did 20 years ago and how. No matter how inspiring, some of those examples are already totally outdated (like the PALM computers) and I think the book lacks more methodology sections or a good story. I can imagine it could be either a good narrative of how IDEO started and operated or a good guidebook on how to innovate, but in the end it is neither. To summarise what I learn ...more
Rohit Yadav
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Success depends on both what you do & how you do.

Try stuff & then ask for forgiveness

Fail often to succeed sooner

Innovate or die

There are always more opportunity to create excitement then you think.

Never underestimate the barrier to people accepting a new idea

Routine is the enemy of innovation. Break the rules, let the colours spill

Entering fun competition & mastering fundamentals.

Mindset: Playful

Creating seamless wow experience: Learning from Vegas & AU. How could you turn ___ into fun experie
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Amanda Hanson
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Refresher on the Importance of Innovation

This book was a good read. Lots of fun stories about the experiences IDEO has had in practicing innovation. While it doesn't provide the silver bullet answer to your problems, it provides great tips on topics like brainstorming, and serves as a reminder that innovation is something that we should all make an effort to practice every day. I particularly enjoyed the sections where the stories offered up examples of finding inspiration in unexpected indust
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Jeanne
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! This book emphasizes the need to foster innovation and creativity to ensure status quo is not maintained in the pursuit of improvements for products and services. A problem is defined and teams are formed to brainstorm how to solve them. All ideas are considered and the group takes the best of them and continues to develop them. Key elements are perseverance and finishing the project to completion. There are examples of innovative solutions that were developed using design thinki ...more
Megan
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school, 2019
Tom Kelley clearly loves IDEO and his brother Dave. His innovation advice focuses on products, and is difficult to translate into processes, especially as his big takeaway is for "rapid prototyping." He does have some thoughts on group dynamics and office space. Overall his ideas are reiterated a few too many times and the advice isn't concrete, while the anecdotes are more fun for Kelley than for the reader. The historical aspect, IDEO's numerous inventions, is interesting. ...more
Katie
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fun read on the history of innovative design. I recognized many standard practices of tech/business culture that IDEO claims to have originated. The book even mentions a product that my dad worked on at Silicon Graphics when I was a kid. Kelley’s many predictions are interesting to look back on. Yes, we now use biometrics and wearable tech as he expected. No, the US still hasn’t adopted the metric system. He also spells out his plan for a smartphone. Not bad for a book written in 2000!
Jack
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-twice, business
I've once tried to open a business and the single biggest question that arose in my mind was "Will my target customer like and use it?" This book offers the answer - do field observation by watching how people deal with a potential problem you are trying to tackle. This is illustrated by a shopping cart re-design project by the IDEO and that was really a great example with vivid details that really helps you understand what they mean by "do field observation" ...more
Jeff Whitlock
Lots of great ideas from a firm that I deeply respect. While I agree with and appreciated the point that some level of fun/playfulness is required for Innovation, I didn't appreciate that Tom applied this point to the entire structure, prose, and content of this book. It's a very folksy telling, which made it entertaining but also less rigorous, structured, and fact-based.

[Will update]
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Charles
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: les-meilleurs
Tom Kelley writes a great story on the many paths to innovate in the business world.
It also stands as a company brochure to promote and share the best practices at IDEO (world leading design firm), Kelley’s firm.

All concepts and techniques are illustrated by case studies and real-world examples, so that every reader can understand and most importantly apply that knowledge.
Steve Bullington
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
First published in 2001, almost all of the product and company examples are out of date (Netscape and Palm).

The concepts though are even more relevant and important today than that hey we’re back then.

This book will help you apply the concepts of Design Thinking to you company, product, service or software.
Robert Bogue
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the quirky things about the way that I dig into topics is that sometimes it’s like reading a book from the back to the front. I read the most recent things first before getting back to more foundational works. That’s absolutely the case with The Art of Innovation. I have previously reviewed Tom and David Kelley’s book, Creative Confidence, which made mention to this earlier work. It was also referenced in The Medici Effect and The Innovator’s DNA. Getting back to this classic book was jus ...more
Stephanie
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting reading about a lot of history in design thinking. Is amazing how close their predictions were reading this 17 years after it was written. A lot of good ideas about how to build a place that encourages innovation. Very focused on product design however. Something how well it translates to services.
George Stander
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I am a bit disappointed in this book.
Although the stories are inspiring it offers little insight into the actual methods of design thinking used by IDEO. The culture at IDEO is very inspiring and there are lessons to be learnt.

I reckon if you want to read this to learn about design thinking stay away. However if you want to learn about an amazing company culture this book is wonderful.
Jake
3.5/5

While most of the distilled recommendations were in the last chapter as Kelley recapped, the journey was fun and inspiring. Many people will not like volume of examples, but I think for things of this nature, examples help make the recommendations real. This is a soft skill anyway, and benefits from that type of treatment.
Sneha Ranjan
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting book for product designers , managers and marketers. I think the edition I read was a bit dated yet interesting as it talked about predictions about how the entire New York streets would bustle with people with cell phones finding it difficult to cross the streets. Good lessons from Ideo, a firm that started Design Thinking.
Kartik
Mar 03, 2022 added it
Didn't find the book very pertinent to today's age. Found some value out of the brainstorming, open creativity bits but I do believe this could have been condensed to less than 100 pages. The author continues to go on and on about the same examples in different contexts which made me put the book down towards the end. ...more
Warren Mcpherson
Many tidbits of wisdom assembled in a whimsical style that seems to give a very good insight into the culture of the Ideo design firm. While the book does reflect a great creative culture it doesn't feel like it systematic or rigorous enough to build strong knowledge. I suspect version 2 of this book "Creative Confidence" will be an improvement and I am looking forward to reading it next.
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Thomas Kelley runs the marketing side of the hugely successful industrial product design firm IDEO. His brother, David, started the company in 1977 in Palo Alto, CA. One of his earliest projects was designing the first mouse for Steve Jobs at Apple Computers.

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