#15/111: The Art of Innovation

What is it about?

The makers of Apple’s first mouse and Palm V talk about inventing new products. Tom Kelly, who is General Manager at IDEO, explains the basic principles of IDEO’s work. Each of these principles is supported by several short anecdotes.

Key points?

Build Hot Teams: The less inertia the better. Let your staff work on projects as project teams. These project teams are Hot Teams if they have one purpose and a defined deadline. After this project the Hot Team is ready to split up and build new teams with other people.

Observe: Watch people using the existing product, to explore what could be improved. What works? What doesn’t? What could be added or removed? Particularly the last one is maybe too hard to answer by its actual users. So, use your knowledge and ideas to find answers.

Brainstorm: Tom Kelly thinks that Brainstorming is more a mindset than an activity. Brainstorm often, freely and without (too much) restrictions.

Prototype:  If you build a new product, you should test it at fast and much as possible. Build some prototype and show them to your customers/boss and ask them what they like and dislike. Using this information build the next prototype and iterate.

Use verbs not nouns: Your product shouldn’t just be a thing, it should be a experience. If you think about Hawaii, you probably think of beaches, sunshine and hula girls. If you think about Volvo, you probably think of safety. It’s a experience, not just a car or an island.


This book is just terrific. Each chapter is full of different stories about the work process and life at IDEO. Furthermore, it is very well written and divided into small sub chapters. If you are a creative person you will love this book. There is so much inspiration and flow and so little bureaucracy and rules.