30 min read

The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley - Summary and Book Notes

Tom Kelley of IDEO thinks innovation is the path forward for companies. To help us become more innovative, he presents 10 'personas' we can learn to take on.

Book Review

Kelley's tenure at IDEO has put him in the path of many fascinating projects. The book goes through each of the 10 personas, explaining them in detail and providing examples of success stories. There's plenty of methods and approaches here that are rarely used in the corporate world. If you're interested in shaping an organization's culture, or expanding your own capabilities, you'll like this book.

Unfortunately, parts of "The Ten Faces" feel very repetitive. The same idea gets rehashed multiple times, seemingly to fill out the book's length. Yes, repetition is important for solidifying ideas, but this book probably has too much.

While the examples are great, many are superfluous. I wish there were more implementation details than examples. Kelley also dismisses costs of implementation in a way that won't be convincing for your boss.

Despite it's drawbacks, for the right person, Kelley's book could help turn a company around.

I'd recommend this book for Employees, Managers, and CEOs at medium to large corporations. If your company is in dire need of more innovative thinking, "The Ten Faces of Innovation" is a good place to start.

Buy "The Ten Faces of Innovation" on Amazon

Quick Summary:

  • Modern organizations need innovation to survive and grow
  • The author presents 10 'personas' as examples of roles you or others in your organization can improve innovation
  • these personas are not inherent personality traits or “types” that are permanently attached to one (and only one) individual
  • For each of the personas, the author offers details, plenty of examples, and tips for implementation
  • The author concludes that mixing a multidisciplinary team made up of these personas is the best path towards innovation.

The Ten Personas are:

The Anthropologistbrings new learning and insights into the organization by observing human behavior and developing a deep understanding of how people interact physically and emotionally with products, services, and spaces.

The Experimenterprototypes new ideas continuously, learning by a process of enlightened trial and error.

The Cross-Pollinatorexplores other industries and cultures, then translates those findings and revelations to fit the unique needs of your enterprise

The Hurdler knows the path to innovation is strewn with obstacles and develops a knack for overcoming or outsmarting those roadblocks.

The Collaborator helps bring eclectic groups together, and often leads from the middle of the pack to create new combinations and multidisciplinary solutions

The Director not only gathers together a talented cast and crew but also helps to spark their creative talents.

The Experience Architect designs compelling experiences that go beyond mere functionality to connect at a deeper level with customers’ latent or expressed needs.

The Set Designer creates a stage on which innovation team members can do their best work, transforming physical environments into powerful tools to influence behavior and attitude.

The Caregiver builds on the metaphor of a health care professional to deliver customer care in a manner that goes beyond mere service.

The Storyteller builds both internal morale and external awareness through compelling narratives that communicate a fundamental human value or reinforce a specific cultural trait.

Book Notes

The Devil’s Advocate encourages idea-wreckers to assume the most negative possible perspective,

Having optimized operations and finances, many companies are now recognizing that growth through innovation is their best strategy to compete

Tom Peters would say, you can’t shrink your way to greatness.

The Ten Faces of Innovation is a book about innovation with a human face.

is not enough to just have a good idea. Only when you act, when you implement, do you truly innovate.

Innovation Network’s definition [of innovation]: “People creating value through the implementation of new ideas.”

The ten core chapters of this book highlight ten people-centric tools developed at IDEO that you might call talents or roles or personas for innovation

In a postdisciplinary world where the old descriptors can be constraining, these new roles can empower a new generation of innovators.

The Learning Personas

The Anthropologistbrings new learning and insights into the organization by observing human behavior and developing a deep understanding of how people interact physically and emotionally with products, services, and spaces.

The Experimenterprototypes new ideas continuously, learning by a process of enlightened trial and error.

The Cross-Pollinatorexplores other industries and cultures, then translates those findings and revelations to fit the unique needs of your enterprise

The Organizing Personas

The Hurdler knows the path to innovation is strewn with obstacles and develops a knack for overcoming or outsmarting those roadblocks.

The Collaborator helps bring eclectic groups together, and often leads from the middle of the pack to create new combinations and multidisciplinary solutions

The Director not only gathers together a talented cast and crew but also helps to spark their creative talents.

The Building Personas

The Experience Architect designs compelling experiences that go beyond mere functionality to connect at a deeper level with customers’ latent or expressed needs.

The Set Designer creates a stage on which innovation team members can do their best work, transforming physical environments into powerful tools to influence behavior and attitude.

The Caregiver builds on the metaphor of a health care professional to deliver customer care in a manner that goes beyond mere service.

The Storyteller builds both internal morale and external awareness through compelling narratives that communicate a fundamental human value or reinforce a specific cultural trait.

The appeal of the personas is that they work. Not in theory or in the classroom but in the unforgiving marketplace.

they’re not inherent personality traits or “types” that are permanently attached to one (and only one) individual on the team. These innovation roles are available to nearly anyone on your team, and people can switch roles, reflecting their multifaceted capabilities.

you may find that walking in the shoes of a new persona changes your attitude and outlook, even your behavior.

The personas are about “being innovation” rather than merely “doing innovation.”

The Anthropologist

If I could choose just one persona, it would be the Anthropologist

you have to know what problem to solve.

Anthropologists practice the Zen principle of “beginner’s mind.”

Anthropologists embrace human behavior with all its surprises.

They don’t judge, they observe.

Anthropologists draw inferences by listening to their intuition.

Anthropologists seek out epiphanies through a sense of “Vuja De.” Vuja De is the opposite—a sense of seeing something for the first time, even if you have actually witnessed it many times before.

Anthropologists keep “bug lists” or “idea walletswrite down bits and pieces that surprise them, especially things that seem broken.

Methods Deck. four categories of “Ask,” “Watch,” “Learn,” and “Try.”

“life isn’t typical.” She never asks general questions, like “What’s your typical diet?”

In the process of generalizing, human nature causes people to idealize, which defeats the purpose of the observation in the first place.

“It’s amazing how often people will say, ‘Well, today was unusual...'

When you seek out field observations, remember: The more emotional breadth you gather, the better. The more human needs and desires you unearth for your experiential map, the more likely it is that they will lead you to promising new opportunities.

Anthropologists have a knack for not falling into routines.

Small Observations Pay
Picking up on the smallest nuances of your customers can offer tremendous opportunities

intern program
helps us stay fresh with a steady flow of ideas and irreverence.

We believe it’s critical to observe and talk to kids. The freshness of their insights can’t be found elsewhere.

try this exercise one day. Write down every fix you see at work, at home, or out on the town.Watch for things that have been duct-taped or bolted on. Look for add-on signs that explain what’s broken or how a machine really works.

You’ll have a better understanding of why some products or services truly sing. And you’ll learn to recognize when a product—or even a whole category—is crying out for improvement.

working with children.

  • Ask them about their shoes.
  • Offer something about yourself. Tell them a little about your day or your interests, especially something that shows your vulnerabilities;
  • Ask them to invite their best friend along to talk. they will launch into an absorbing conversation on a subject and ignore you completely, which can be a remarkable thing when you’re doing cultural anthropology.
  • Remind them (only if it’s true) that the project is “top secret.”
  • Ask for a house tour.
  • Ask kids what they would buy with ten dollars. Or a hundred. This question is avery effective way to find out what’s hot and what’s not. Ask a teenager about the latest gear and you may just raise their defenses.

We have an entire wall adjacent to my office filled with popular and edgy magazines They’re placed in a big open room that’s near one of the busiest thoroughfares in the firm. We believe that simply flipping through new magazines is a serious and productive practice for any organization interested in innovation one piece of meta-learning you can pick up in the first five minutes: that there’s more going on in the world than you can possibly keep up with.

Most customers are not so good at helping you plan for new-to-the-world services, If you’re interested in making something new and better, you’ve got to watch people struggle and stumble.

Some of the strongest clues to new opportunities can be found in the curious quirks and habits of people navigating their ever-changing world. Some of these clever human adaptations are quite intentional, while others are almost unconscious.

calls these coping and response behaviors “Thoughtless Acts,”

For a look at tomorrow’s mainstream markets, look at teenagers today.

it pays to look at people who are a little different.

Teens try stuff constantly, check it out, and love it or chuck it.

Why do we watch and try to learn from kids and teens? They just soak up novel ideas, whereas grown-ups often spend a lot of time pushing back, telling you why it won’t work.

The Experimenter

Experimenters don’t need to be geniuses.

Experimenters embrace little failures at the early stages to avoid big mistakes later on.

prototyping is central to the IDEO tool set,
First, you can prototype just about everything. Today, we prototype services as well as new products.

Virtually every step along the ideation path can be prototyped—not just at the development stage, but also marketing, distribution, even sales.

our first prototypes can be pretty darned crude.
Experimenters delight in how fast they take a concept from words to sketch, to model, and, yes, to a successful new offering work to create an environment where it’s OK to present less-polished prototypes

Implementation by Experimenting
service innovations: They’re ultimately about people and teams. There’s an inherent tension between systems and innovation.

when you’re dealing with entities with a level of independence—like the disparate offices of a large corporation or high-end hotel chains—you can’t simply steamroll them with new ideas.

innovations developed at the flagship facility often require some translation to be successful at outlying locations.

introduce the new services by asking the other locations to “put on an experiment.”

If experimenting is part of your culture, you can respond in hours or days, changing your offerings to meet market shifts and customer demands.

Flushing Away Mistakes
“Fail often, to succeed sooner” is an old IDEO axiom. [create a] mistake ritual.
Positive Coaching Alliance

The school’s baseball team had a losing record. If players struck out, hit into a double play, or had any other kind of morale-zapping failure, they’d come back to the dugout and literally “flush away” the mistake with a palm-sized, realistic-looking (and -sounding) toy toilet.
won the national championship.

Could you come up with a symbolic way of letting go of mistakes at your company, or within your division or team?

Paper-Thin Prototyping
How might you make it easy for potential customers to envision and prototype the idea of using your products or services
Could you use an inexpensive prototype to chip away at whatever is holding them back from becoming your loyal new customer?

Multiple Prototypes
we always try to present more than one prototype to guard against such fruitless responses.
a variety of options makes possible a much more frank and positive discussion about the pros and cons of a prospective idea.
Why can you speak the truth? Because you’re not trapped in an awkward situation where someone you care about has already put all their eggs in one basket.

Customers are rarely in a take-it-or-leave-it situation with one option to choose from. They’re accustomed to weighing the pros and cons of multiple offerings and expressing their preferences.
Offer as many prototypes as possible within the limits of your budget and schedule.
have to lower the bar, making prototypes quicker and cheaper than ever before.

Chunking Risk
London-based IDEO designer Alan South calls it “chunking risk.” Breaking down seemingly large problems into miniature experiments to the point where—lo and behold—you’ve generated system change without even knowing it.

The next time you’re facing a complex bottleneck, give it a try. “Chunking risk” works.

Video PrototypingAt IDEO, we now frequently find ourselves prototyping in the world of experiences rather than in creating discrete objects The video had the advantage of speed and economy. video prototype was a quick and extremely visual way of expressing how a salon might look and feel.

Given the ever-shortening attention span of corporate audiences, we’d suggest you keep your homemade video under six minutes in length (under three is even better,

Play Time
Letting kids express themselves isn’t just fooling around. Listening to your youngest customers can really pay.

kids often make something out of what parents or companies would otherwise discard. Cryptic and cumbersome, SMS was used by network technicians to troubleshoot problems.

Life as an Experiment
Treat life as one big experiment and you’ll start building a framework for continuous learning.experimentation is one of the best ways to push toward the next breakthrough.

Cross-pollinators can create something new and better through the unexpected juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts.

They’re the voracious reader devouring books, magazines, and online sources to keep themselves and the team abreast of popular trends and topics. they usually sport multiple interests that lend them the experience necessary to take an idea from one business challenge and apply it in a fresh context. They often write down their insights in order to increase the amount they can retain and pass on to others.

Seeds of Cross-Pollination
over time, we learned to apply our “design thinking” approach from product-innovation programs to the world of services, experiences, and even cultures.

Seven of the “secret ingredients” in our recipe for cross-pollination

  1. Show-and-tell. The IDEO Tech Box, is a systematic approach to collecting and sharing what we know.
  2. Hire lots of people with diverse backgrounds. looking for someone who will expand our talent pool or stretch the firm’s capabilities.
  3. Stir the pot with space. We create lots of multidisciplinary project rooms and leave ample space for “accidental” or impromptu meetings among people from disparate groups.
  4. there are more new ideas outside your country than inside.
  5. Host a weekly “Know How” speakers series. the shared buzz of many IDEO people seeing a speaker sets off a wave of discussions throughout the firm.
  6. Learn from visitors.
  7. Seek out diverse projectsThe broad range of our client work—spanning dozens of industries—means that we can cross-pollinate from one world to another.

Crossing Ideas
Cross-Pollinators are more than good students. They’re good teachers as well Cross-Pollinators retain the childlike ability to see patterns others don’t, and to spot key differences. But they’ve also honed the very adult skill of applying those subtle differences in new contexts.

often think in metaphors, enabling them to see relationships and connections that others miss.sometimes make a practice of “doing without”—tackling a problem by considering solutions without some key element popularly considered standard or essential.

Students of history, they search for concepts that may have been ahead of their time or may be ready for a revival look for fertile ground in science-fiction stories,

our most valuable Cross-Pollinators are what we call “T-shaped” individuals. T-shaped people are deep in at least one field while knowledgeable in many.

Even small, pointed insights can make a remarkable difference.

Innovation on a Shoestring
Sometimes a lack of resources and tools can prove to be the spark that helps you to seek out and make new connections

Increase Your Fluency
Cross-Pollinators are like linguists, confident in the knowledge that the more languages they master, the easier it becomes to absorb the next one. Give your team greater variety and they will start seeing the outlines of new connections,

The Fosbury Flop
Cross-Pollinators sometimes tackle a problem by turning it around. But Fosbury didn’t flop all at once. The breakthrough didn’t come in the kind of “eureka” moment He experimented with a style widely considered flawed, adding his own twist, gradually refining his technique, never sure whether he was on a path to success or stumbling down a blind alley.

we’re also tapping into the cross-pollination potential of “boomerang” staffers—[staffers who leave IDEO, then return after working in other fields]

Traveling often and widely is one of the most effective ways to become a better Cross-Pollinator.

Scour the world for ideas. Reinvent something native to Asia or Europe or the Americas.

Sometimes what managers really need is a mentor from a younger generation to inform and inspire.

Sometimes the most strategic branding move you can make is to give away what seems to be your crown jewels.
Volvo’s extraordinary and brave decision not to patent this remarkable invention [the seatbelt] to encourage the saving of lives.
helped make the Volvo brand synonymous with safety.

intuitively understand the role of serendipity and chance.
the Cross-Pollinator becomes a bit like the unlikely bumblebee.
the Cross-Pollinator is in many ways a collection of personas—part Anthropologist, part Experimenter

The Cross-Pollinator is an essential part of the ecosystem of innovation. Welcome the role. Encourage it in others.

Hurdlers do more with less.

Hurdlers know that you don’t always have to tackle a challenge head-on if you can find a way to sidestep it.

Hurdlers maintain a quiet, positive determination—especially in the face of adversity. Give them a constraint, a tight deadline, a small budget, and they’re likely to excel.

How might you turn an obstacle into an opportunity at your organization?
Look for a product or service enhancement that you can deliver cheaper and faster. Don’t despair, even if your original business model is under attack. You may be just one good innovation away from breaking into an entirely new and more profitable industry.

The reality, of course, is that innovation teams often have to hurdle the barriers set up by well-meaning company management.


As a researcher, he was authorized to approve purchases of up to $100. So he paid for the machine with a series of $99 purchase orders that slipped under the radar. The result? In 1925, Richard Drew successfully produced the world’s first masking tape,

individual Hurdlers play a huge role in changing an organization’s view of innovation.

The Power of a Constructive “No”
sometimes even a Hurdler can use the power of “no.” There are times when you have to reject an initial strategy in order to find the right path for a new idea.

McCurdy, a veteran entrepreneur, didn’t consider the possibility of failure. But he was uncommonly flexible about how he would succeed.

He had the strength and flexibility to adjust his course. Sometimes to say yes, you’ve got to first say no.

Anyone who has actually lived through a wave of breakthrough innovation can tell you it is anything but inevitable

Sometimes it takes time for the biggest new ideas to upend the status quo.

Setbacks aren’t problems, they’re opportunities

turned a routine misadventure into a marketing opportunity. When little things go wrong—mix-ups and minor mistakes—most companies would be better off treating them with a sense of humor.

Most publicity is better than no publicity at all.

sometimes it pays to maintain optimism when being pulled down by those who should “know better.”

by nature, experts are often the guardians of conventional wisdom.

So nurture the Hurdlers in your organization. Cherish them. Hurdlers can seem at times a bit stubborn. But that can be a good thing.

What is a Collaborator?
They bring people together to get things done.

we more often see ourselves as working alongside a client group, influencing their culture, altering their patterns of innovation, and leaving them with new tools to continue the forward momentum.

the “right” answer is worthless if it is rejected by organizational antibodies in the client company

The ultimate proof of success is when our counterparts at the client company get promoted.

Collaborators can be a company’s best defense against internal skeptics.

Collaborators know that the race is won in the baton pass.
Taking down some of the walls separating inter-company teams can make a world of difference.

They can be valuable at the validation stage, but we don’t believe in focus groups if you’re looking to inspire breakthrough innovation.
We do Unfocus Groups. We invite extreme people passionate about the products or services we’re trying to develop.

Unfocus Groups give companies a chance to see real people interact and experiment with products and things they care about.

Companies typically have departments that excel in their respective competencies, such as marketing, finance, engineering, and manufacturing. trying to fit a promising innovation project into these existing management silos can be like trying to slice a 360-degree panorama into a series of small frames.

At some very good companies, the best they can hope for is a series of handoffs that don’t wreck the momentum

You can’t mechanistically build responsiveness into a company. Or innovation. For organizations split into silos, their siloed thought patterns pose a stiff barrier to the breakthrough innovation the market demands.

How do we combat this traditional silo view when we collaborate? We create a cross-functional team.this can be tough going. Egos are involved as well as turf.

simply including someone from every team isn’t enough. You need some glue. You need a Collaborator.

Triathlon Is the New Golf
IDEOer Hilary Hoeber believes that preparing gourmet meals together (and then eating them, of course) is a great way to strengthen team bonds. John Berger at G2market says he likes to take colleagues scuba diving builds both mutual trust and shared experience. Neil Grimmer and Chris Waugh at IDEO They do triathlons with their favorite clients.

Sweat Equity
often the most important step in a radical collaboration is simply finding a way to work together in the first place.

Pass That Baton
if you blow the handoff, it’s game over. If you work on those exchanges to the point where they become smooth and fast, you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve together.

Long Distance
In today’s global economy, your baton passes are just as likely to need to cross over oceans as well as departments. how do you pull off an international project? Start with some genuine face time (videoconferencing doesn’t count).

Humans are still hardwired to believe that breaking bread with one another matters.

E-mail is not enough. At IDEO, we build e-rooms, virtual spaces dedicated to projects carved out on the company’s digital network.

Team members make and manipulate a project-specific Wiki

It’s hard to pick up on a team member’s simmering frustration if e-mail is your only form of communication.

Make time for lots of little and long conversations. Don’t say something in an e-mail that you wouldn’t say in person.

Avoid ambiguous e-mails that might possibly be misinterpreted by someone who’s had a bad day. if possible, never initiate contact through an e-mail.

One of the secrets to Whole Foods’ recipe for success is the collaborative model that permeates their operation.

While the big chains have plenty of managers and clerks, Whole Foods generates more creative, engaged, project-oriented teams.New employees are hired by the bakery team, the seafood team, or whatever group they’re joining. A month after you’re hired, two-thirds of your fellow employees must vote to keep you on.

Self-directed teams that meet regularly to discuss issues, solve problems, and appreciate each other’s contributions.

Transform the work of your organization into projects headed by teams. Give them a powerful role in their work.

The best soccer coaches do virtually all of their coaching in practice.Negoesco coached his teams so well in practice that by game time each player was himself a coach, ready to tackle any number of challenges on the field.

Rather than focusing on the specialized skills of a specific position, as in football, soccer requires overlapping, the teamwide blending of skills and responsibilities

We’ve increasingly come to recognize that just because someone’s degree is in engineering doesn’t mean they can’t contribute in a creative brainstorm about a new service.

Good teams ask people to stretch and cover for one another, to fill the gaps.

Coach More, Direct Less
Good executives and managers inspire their staffs to develop their confidence and skills so they can seize critical “big game” opportunities.

  • Break teams into smaller groups of three to six to increase the number of triangles where team members can pass ideas and responsibilities.
  • Find one or more key responsibilities for every player.
  • Create opportunities for team members to assume nontraditional roles and push forward initiatives.
  • Encourage the sharing of ideas and initiatives.

business guru Gary Hamel says, the process of collaboration can in some cases be more important than the finished product itself.

The same is true of business collaborations. Going through the process together builds understanding, commitment, energy, and momentum.

what do you do when your project bumps up against these natural speed bumps? they’d just seen so many failed initiatives that they didn’t believe change was possible. They were suffering from “consultant fatigue.”

co-opting your opposition. Instead of being offended by their arguments, why not listen and respond to their concerns? They often have valid points.

There’s nothing like the conviction of a convert to boost team momentum.The best advice I can give to anyone playing the role of Collaborator is to be patient.

**next time your efforts are met by a sincere critic, squint your eyes and imagine just what a force this person could be if he or she were on your side. **

You know the Director.
She’s the person mapping out the production, crafting the scenes, bringing out the best among actors and actresses, honing the project or company theme, building the chemistry, getting it done.

There’s more than one Directorial style at IDEO. Unlike the designers portrayed in the movies, outsized egos are relatively hard to find at IDEO


  1. They give center stage to others.Directors are content to let others take the spotlight, confident in the knowledge that their behind-the-scenes work will make the whole production come together.
  2. They love finding new projects.view team chemistry as an intrinsic part of project success.
  3. They rise to tough challenges.Directors expect hardships along the way and are up to the task.
  4. They shoot for the moon.
  5. They wield a large toolbox.Directors embrace the unexpected.

The Director’s first and most prominent task is to always keep the production moving forward in the general direction of the goal. There’s an old adage in Hollywood that “directing is 90 percent casting.”

Of course, the most critical part of directing is getting started: Directors are unlike all the other personas because their main purpose is to inspire and direct other people, developing chemistry in teams, targeting strategic opportunities, and generating innovation momentum

Jump-Starting Innovation
Haygood believes the catalyst for innovation projects is face time with the key players.

When seeking new business or nurturing a new relationship, you’ve got to be more creative about how you approach getting quality time with the key players.

Getting Started with a Brainstorm
sometimes organizations have trouble kicking off the journey. easiest ways to get a quick return on innovation is to set off a chain reaction of brainstorming throughout your organization.

keep the initial barriers to entry low, and start with problems you think you can make a dent in right away.

Launch a series of brainstorms on different topics, The precise topics are not critical at first, since your initial purpose is simply to increase the rate of ideation.

sponsor lunchtime brainstorms once a week, or every payday

Recruit a master of ceremonies for each session—someone brimming with self-confidence and energy.

round up five to ten interested participants (mixing in at least a couple of new people for each session). Look for staffers sporting an eclectic mix of backgrounds,

Offer pizza or sandwiches, with indulgent “reward” food like M&M’s or chocolate-chip cookies.

stock the room with plenty of colorful marker pens, Post-its, and other materials for capturing the ideas as they bubble up.

attend the first couple of minutes of some sessions, Then— get out of the way.
the presence of a senior executive or CEO will be counterproductive.

The benefits go beyond the immediate ideas you generate Regular brainstorming is as critical to an organization as regular exercise is to your health.

Stanford professor Bob Sutton

  • Brainstorms Support Your Organizational Memory
  • Brainstorms Reinforce an Attitude of Wisdom
  • Brainstorms Create Status Auctionstheir free-spirited atmosphere gives all kinds of people a chance to shine. Creative people who excel in the intense environment of a brainstorm can gain attention and status that might otherwise pass them by.


  • Sharpen Your FocusBegin with a clear statement of the problem, a question that’s open-ended but not too broad.
  • Mind the Playground RulesGo for Quantity, Encourage Wild Ideas, Be Visual, Defer Judgment, One Conversation at a Time.
  • Number Your IdeasNumbering your ideas motivates participants, sets a pace, and adds a little structure. A hundred ideas per hour is usually a sign of a good, fluid brainstorm
  • Jump and Buildthe facilitator may need to suggest switching gears: “How might we apply these ideas to…?”
  • Remember to Use the Space Capture your ideas in visual, low-tech mediums that everyone can share.
  • Stretch FirstAsk attendees to do a little homework on the subject the night before. Borrowing from the world of improv, we often start with some form of warm-up, like free association,
  • Get PhysicalAt IDEO, we keep foam core, tubing, duct tape, hot-melt glue guns, and other prototyping basics on hand to sketch, diagram,
  • Start with Some “Zip”underestimated is the power of a name. Lending your team, project, or proposed product an active, colorful name

The naming process—rarely happens in an instant. it helps to talk over or write down the essence of the experience you’re hoping to create, Lexicon founder David Placek would tell you that consonants like v and z connote speed, while letters from the middle of the alphabet like l, m, and n are slower, more comfortable sounds.

A Marketplace for Talent project-based organizations like ours, one critical task for Directors is to allocate available resources to project teams.

weekly resource meeting
First, pick an open area to hold the meeting, as opposed to a conference room—you’re likely to have broader participation and strike a less corporate tone.

it’s easier to keep the meetings from becoming stale by having two or even three leaders.There’s the conductor, who keeps the agenda on track. There’s the organizer or scribe, who records the staffing decisions. Finally, there’s the referee, who promotes a positive spirit and sorts out disputes when they arise. We use a combination of whiteboards, posters, bulletin boards, and projection screens to create a more interactive environment.

mixing physical tools and computer-based systems yields a more visible and group-oriented process.Smart companies avoid defining their staff too narrowly when matching people to tasks. we try to personalize the process, keeping in mind that we are influencing lives and careers, helps to consider the meeting a prototype, to periodically ask what is working and what is not. Before embarking on a continuous-innovation program, it’s crucial to set expectations.

seven questions we’ve found that help companies prepare to launch new efforts.

  • How will your company define a successful innovation program?
  • How will your organization fund the innovation process?
  • What corporate resources (staff, space, technology, etc.) will be available to support your effort?
  • How often will the stakeholder groups meet to review your innovation propositions?
  • How many task teams will you sponsor yearly? How often will you put together these teams?
  • How much logistical support will be given to your innovation staff (time away from regular duties, prototyping tools, administrative support, etc.)?
  • What rewards or recognition can people expect for participating in this program? If it’s a struggle to answer them, your innovation program may lack the organizational and logistical support it needs.

Targeting Opportunities
What’s a manageable project you could launch today that starts you on the path toward achieving that longer-term goal?

Sleep for Success
Director roles at IDEO have known that brainstorms hum in the morning, when energy and creativity seem to peak. with a good nap in the middle of the day, perhaps you could get two peaks, like having two mornings in the same day.twenty minutes may be the magic number, at least in the business environment. an optimum amount of napping time to awake refreshed without feeling groggy. Biologically, there’s a letdown after lunch and into the early afternoon

The Deep Dive for Total Immersion
“Deep Dives.” The idea was to get a running start on a project, to immerse ourselves in observations, brainstorms, and prototyping—to accelerate the innovation process. During a Deep Dive, the team temporarily sets all other issues aside in order to launch an intense, exhilarating exploration of one specific challenge for just a few days. another benefit. The intensive process pulls people together. It diminishes the need to persuade. Familiarity Breeds Honesty

Experience Architects—people who focus relentlessly on creating remarkable customer experiences. sets the stage for positive encounters with your organization

Experience Architects design not only for customers but also for employees. They keep you from being relegated to the commodity world, where price is the only point of comparison.

You don’t need an industrial-design degree to be adept at the Experience Architect the strongest experiences have a deep-seated authenticity.

Experience Architect, you view the world through a simple lens, searching out experience elements in the status quo that are negative—or merely neutral—and then looking for opportunities to fine-tune them.

Architects fend off the ordinary wherever they find it, Sound expensive? It doesn’t have to be. On the contrary, it can be remarkably profitable.

Little Experiences
designed experiences need not be complex or expensive. start by taking little steps. Sometimes, by saving your customer even one extra step, they’ll reward you for giving them a better experience. Could you turn something you produce or provide into a better experience for your customers?

Trigger Points
If you set out to make everything better about your product or service, you may end up with a gold-plated offering that few customers can afford, or with unfocused features few will fully appreciate. start by asking what’s truly important to your customer.
We call them trigger points.

consider it a pretty significant failure in the consumer electronics industry that a hotel chain is forced to create its own alarm clock, but that’s exactly what happened.

It’s not that your customers don’t notice the flaws. It’s just that they figure that’s the way it is.

To shake up your thinking, try something radical. Maybe you can turn a part of your experience inside out. Look around. What else hasn’t changed in a long time?

Mapping the Customer Journey
The journey often begins earlier and ends later than people realize.consider the emotional underpinnings that precede a journey.

Moving Journeys
bring the dentist to the patient, instead of vice versa. Companies could use it as an extra service for their workers—one that reduced downtime yet cost the company almost nothing.

I anticipate that other sophisticated professional services will be plugging into corner spots of corporate parking lots in the years ahead.Drive, run, or walk to your customers with technology, information, and personalized service.

The Non-Journey
kids did not perceive the shopping experience as sequential steps, even though we love a customer journey map in most cases, we recognized that this was one of those times when you need to set the map aside.

What’s the hammock in your business? What generates such an overwhelming response that your customers can’t help but be intrigued?When the stars in the night sky suggest that the compass is broken, the experienced navigator forges a path with the best tools he can find.

Merit Badging
large groups of people, are now collecting experiences. life goals is to visit a hundred countries. As new generations redefine affluence, it may be less about what you own and more about what you’ve done.

Experience Collectors
your customers? Can you encourage them to collect your experiences?

Architecting the Extraordinary
the first step in becoming extraordinary is simply to stop being ordinary Every organization (and every employee) performs a bit better or worse because of the planning, design, and management of its physical workspace. —FRANKLIN BECKER, OFFICES AT WORK

The Set Designer persona

a creative office is like a well-designed stage or movie set that contributes to the overall performance. Space is among the last things managers think of when trying to revitalize team attitudes and performance. when we walk into most offices, our senses shut down from sensory underload.

Set Designers balance private and collaborative space, giving people room to collaborate but also providing the sanctuary of privacy for intensely individual work.
Some workplaces are so dull that you only have to lift one or more restrictive rules to make an improvement.

“on-campus off-site”
every organization worth its salt needs to recruit great people, and space can be a big draw.

Enter a New Arena
the Cleveland Indians’ transformation from one of baseball’s worst teams to one of the best was catalyzed by changing their stadium—by changing the working environment of their team—then maybe what your team needs, too, is a fresh stage to find its inner greatness.

Innovation on Wheels
America’s most creative companies take a measured kindergarten approach to space. ILM has a tremendously flexible approach to the workspace. Is your workspace too static? Do you need to move people around? Are you letting the natural human resistance to change stop you from launching new, more creative combinations of workers?

Connecting Spaces
common preconceptions. Hallways are for moving through quickly. Classrooms are for closed-door lectures. They noticed that students would try to congregate in the hallways. The solution they hit upon was to create “almost” rooms along the major circulation path. Doorless alcoves with whiteboards, plug-ins for laptops, and flat-panel monitors for collaborations.

Look around your organization. Do you have a lot of dull hallways? Is there something simple you could do to increase spontaneous interaction and relaxed collaboration?

Tear Down Your Temples
When you create new work environments, you’re bound to bump up against egos.

why should an executive, business leader, or other professional behave any differently today? Because the world has changed. what you can achieve matters more than what you can accumulate. Has your success spawned a proud temple? Or does your space genuinely invite partners, clients, and customers to visit?

practically every company has some dead space. You may have designed or forecast a worthwhile purpose. But as people adapted and moved on, the place was left behind like a ghost town.

You can renew these forgotten places by seeding some group activity there, turning them into project rooms, or interactive display spaces, or spots to post information about relevant emerging trends.

Stewart Brand, creator of The Whole Earth Catalog, argues that buildings adapt or “learn” over time, as their inhabitants shape and mold them to their changing needs. One of the challenges of the Set Designer is to create spaces that will learn gracefully and quickly to support the kind of dynamic teams that spark continuous innovation.


  • Make room for fifteen to twenty people, even if the core project teams will be small.
  • Dedicate the space to innovation.
  • Leave ample wall space for sketch boards, maps, pictures, and other engaging visuals.
  • Locate your lab in a place convenient to most team members, near enough for even part-time team members to drop in on a moment’s notice but far enough away so they can’t hear their desk phone
  • Foster an abundance mentality. Stock  the lab with an oversupply of innovation staples

The Power of Place
If you want to make something important, put it where you can't avoid it. What could you move that would make it more important, more approachable? Isolation may bring benefits, but sometimes we're better off right in the thick of things

The Caregiver

"Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can." - Gary Comer, Founder of Land's End

The caregiver is the foundation of human powered innovation Caregivers work to extend the relationship. They show rather than teach Caregivers take extra pains to understand each individual customer"I'm always ready to learn, though I don't always like being taught" - Winston Churchill Some don't want a lesson, and certainly not a teacher He tries to deliver without visibly teachingThe higher the level of service, the more expert and transparent the customer service becomes

"our industry is different" they fall into the familiar trap of thinking there's no room left for change in their business virtually any industry can be improved--no matter how long it's been done the same old way

Offer customers a safety netsometimes it makes sense to encourage you customers to explore a little "if it doesn't thrill you, we'll replace it with your usual favorite"

The Caregiver's guide to great service

  1. curate the collection customers are overwhelmed with too many alternatives and little clarity about the right choice
  2. Build extra expertise If you company becomes a trusted source of information, you'll build a base of loyal customers
  3. Small can be beautiful think cafe, bistro, barbershop when creating a service or sales outlet (if people just want to chat, you're doing something right)
  4. Build relationships with sustainability
  5. Invite customers to "join the club"

The doorbell effect
The way you manage critical wait times can make all the difference in how your company is perceived

No good caregiver would leave their customer completely in the dark during a waiting period, but that's exactly what most organizations doThink how much easier it is to wait for an elevator when you can see what floor it's on

Mediate, don't automate
the highest levels of caregiving are inspired by a human touch Make sure the people who use new services have real, tangible interactions leave what's best done by humans to humansthe best services are those that use technology to deliver even better person-to-person customer service

Everyone thinks innovation is expensive, but how much does a smile cost? though the smile is spontaneous and free, it is also the result of careful nurturing

The Storyteller

"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." - Muriel Rukeyser The power of a good story has a few thousand years behind it

Stories persuade in a way that facts seldom do, because stories make an emotional connection
The creating and telling of myths is part of human nature

Before you begin a story, it's important to know what specific outcome you are hoping to attain

distinction between "true" and "authentic"
authentic is more like "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" True: "Titanic sails on maiden voyage. Seven hundred 'happy' passengers arrive in New York" Authentic stories have deep integrity

No matter the size of your company, the organization is constantly collecting stories about your business, your values, your achievements.

Instead of asking questions like "what do you like or dislike about...?" Jane will star with "Tell me a story about a time your mobile let you down"
When she does this right, without pretense, her subject is thinking, "Oh, they want to listen to me!"

Listen to their stories. Don't ask for the main point. Let the story run its course

The right medium can support and amplify your intended message

The best infomercials work because they build a detailed, persuasive case for the product. Build to three mini climaxes before the grand finale. Introduce skepticism or controversy, air common doubts, then knock them down. Infomercials have an enviably quick feedback loop. I'm not suggesting that you directly mimic infomercials. But a lot of organizational storytelling remains stuck in the corporate-video syndrome

Beyond the fortune cookie
Can you use storytelling or teaching on a micro level to cement the bond with your customers?

Seven reasons to tell stories

  1. Storytelling builds credibility
  2. Storytelling unleashes powerful emotions and helps teams bond
  3. Stories give "permission" to explore controversial or uncomfortable topics
  4. Storytelling sways a group's point of view
  5. Storytelling creates heroes
  6. Storytelling gives you a vocabulary of change
  7. Good stories help make order out of chaos good storytelling cuts through the clutter

Your physical space has the potential to communicate important stories
Don't let one or two specialists deliver all your tours
Our tour is less polished, but our minimal investment allows to tinker with it constantly
Sprinkle your space with show-and-tell opportunities

In the Mix

the real payoff comes when you gather several roles together and blend them into a multidisciplinary team.

Teaming up for innovation

  1. Stretch for strength in the long run, flexibility is more important for your organization than size or power
  2. Go for distance Innovation is not just a program, it's a way of life
  3. Never surrender
  4. Embrace the mental game
  5. Celebrate coaches

It is possible--even desirable--to blend a traditional, discipline-based role with an innovation persona

Don't let a title or job description hold you backMaybe for you, your personas can be the bar of your T

analogy might be the tools in a carpenter's toolbox. You seldom need all the tools at once, but the perfect kit of tools is a set where you use all of them pretty frequently.

Buy "The Ten Faces of Innovation" on Amazon

Further Reading

For the Cross-Pollinator:

For the Experimenter:

For the Anthropologist: