Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Ten Faces of Innovation, Tom Kelley and IDEO

About a year ago I found this book. It was after I had read The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley, an earlier book published in 2001. The first book took me a year to finish. The Ten Faces of Innovation, published in 2005, took me a month. Tom Kelley wrote it over a period of many years while working within IDEO, a unique and transformative, multi-faceted internaltional design consultancy.

The book opens by reviewing how damaging the devil's advocate process or activity is to innovation and suggests offers alternatives to the dreaded devil's advocate. What I like about the book is it sketches Ten very useful character traits helpful, no essential, for innovation. The motivation for this is the fact no organization can rest on its laurels of past successes but keep aspiring to capture or embody innovative concepts or ideas or work processes which might propell their business forward. The ten faces are organized into three rich categories: Learning Personas, Organizing Personas, Building Personas.
  • LEARNING PERSONAS - Organizations need to constantly grow and develop their knowledge base and enrich their informational context to serve their customers, thus learning personas are super critical:
    The Anthropologist -
    The Experimenter -
    The Cross Pollinator -
  • ORGANIZAING PERSONAS - Individuals in organizations who like to pull together information, factors influencing a design or operational challenge and enjoy helping to orchestrate strategic and/or tactical interactions to achieve results and stay focused.
    The Collaborator -
    The Hurdler -
    The Director -
  • BUILDING PERSONAS - They pull together insights gained from the Learning Personas and Organizing Personas into a rich tapestry of experience in innovative combination together and unlikely, unique value added outcomes.
    The Experience Architect -
    The Set Designer -
    The Storyteller -
    The Caregiver -
Innovation is a collective, collaborative activity. The character traits or personas identified in the book taken independently, while still valuable, are no match for their power in combination together. Think about your work teams and your role(s). You wear many hats over the course of an average work week don't you? Tom Kelley renames the hats we wear. The personas are poignant descriptors of activities essential to building innovative processes within your workplace. What would happen if you read together this book as a team, discussed the various personas together and reflected on your work process together and asked how could it be redesigned or incorporate these ideas. You might quickly identify yourself with a number of the personas, but also realize you are a collection of personas which at various times rise to the surface to meet a specific need. It really helps to see the proverbial hats you wear through these characterizations. So often we try to be everything to everyone. The next time someone speaks up in a meeting and says, "Let me be the devil's advocate here", you'll have a shared background together and say, "Hey, rather than trying to burst the bubble on the idea right now, let's look at this like we're an anthropologist, or experimenter and try this out for a bit in conversation and see where it goes, it might lead someplace unexpected for us."

Fact finding / Data Collection Activities
Brainstorming / Design Charettes
Strategic Development Meetings
Connecting Values & Brand Inseperably
Workplace Design and Interaction Between Work groups
Product & Services Development
Enriching Your Customer Experience
Public Relations and Marketing your Business and Your Story (I really like that)
The book's website has reader stories sharing how the book influenced their worklife. It's really provacative reading to see how the book inspired other readers interested in further developing their worklife design strategies and work culture.

Transform your creative practice by exploring ideas such as one's in this book. Add value to the clients or customers you serve by growing your abilities to think strategically about their needs, how they operate and how they could be better, much better, perhaps even astound and amaze in the arena they operate. Explore and expand your strategic thinking abilities and alternate ways to see the big picture while knowing how to dig deep and really understand what motivates your customer, their stakeholders and move things forward. Most of all enjoy the process of trying new things and learning from what works and what does not!

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