PWA Community: Members’ Contributions


“The Art of Innovation. Lessons in creativity from IDEO” by Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman.
Professional Women’s Association of Rome (PWA Rome) is happy to share a series of book reviews to enhance and support our member’s knowledge. This time, our Vice President, Florencia Barbieri, has contributed to our Community with her personal review about the book written by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman named The art of Innovation. Lessons in creativity from IDEO. Tom Kelley is a Design Thinking Pioneer, book’s author, and Partner at IDEO (a global design company).  Florencia’s review is written in Italian language and you could access and read the whole document scrolling down to the end of this post.
Here below, you could have a look at the first pages of the review. Florencia writes: “This is a book that was published (at least my edition) in 2002. I went back to reading it because I wanted to freshen up my ideas on how to brainstorm after a chat with a friend. The beauty of books is that when you reread them, you can discover new ideas, because each of us, changing over time, also has a different vision of things.
To see how innovation happens, IDEO in 1999 carried out a challenge launched by an American television chain ABC, where they had to reinvent the supermarket trolley in 5 days. I am attaching the video of only 22 minutes, because it is worth it.
The method for innovation followed by IDEO includes the following steps:
• Understanding the market, the customer, the technology and the perceived obstacles of the problem through observation. By observing people / potential customers of the new product in real life situations to understand what they like, what confuses them, what they hate, what their latent desires are.
• Finding new solutions through brainstorming and visualization through physical prototypes, renderings, videos, and / or illustrated storyboards.• Refine through fast iterations to improve the final product.
• Implement the new concept for marketing.
The foundations of innovation according to IDEO lie in observation, brainstorming, prototyping, and strong team building. It is the latter in particular that ensure that these fundamental points flow into an organization. And teams need the right context to thrive.
It is necessary to discover, by observing, what comes natural to people immersing themselves in their “jungle”. And once you find out, have the courage to change the rules of the game. It is a sensory immersion, taking photographs, asking questions, observing with the mind of when you do things for the first time or when you are a child. We must be open and aware of what is happening around us, ready to see new trends. Sometimes it’s enough to have kids or real people test the prototypes to see not how they would theoretically use the product but how they actually use it, to get new ideas, more practical.
IDEO performs what they call investigations of the human factor, which is based on hyper-observation and synthesis. To understand not only what people think and do but also why. It is an organic discovery process which seeks to understand the different levels of meaning and their underlying motivations and needs. Of course, finding the right people to watch makes a difference. We can usually learn more from people who don’t follow the rules, who do things differently.
Questions like “Why” and Why not” lead to innovation.
If you are not in the jungle, you are not going to know the tiger.
Nothing is too big or too small to benefit from a fresh perspective.
Observation can be trained! You can look at everything and ask yourself questions. For example, at a meeting, Who speaks first and who last? Who asks the questions? Who is the charismatic leader everyone looks to when faced with a problem? Next time you are at the airport, think about how you could rearrange the whole experience from A to Z if you were the one to decide. The bladder in your shoe today could become tomorrow’s innovation.
Another technique is to look beyond natural limits or borders, this is called cross-pollination in IDEO. But in the end the most important thing is to change your mindset and learn to see the product from the consumer’s point of view, always considering that you can improve. You have to have your eyes open and be ready to be inspired.”
Take your time and read the whole review till the end, you could discover some practical suggestions from Florencia that you could put right away in practice!


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