Thursday, December 11, 2008

IDEO and the Art of Innovation, and another book I bought instead

Last semester, when we were given our book list, Jan required The Art of Innovation, by Tom Kelly for all of the classes I had with her. Being a little short on cash, I declined this one, and read various chapters here and there. I confess I shied away from actually purchasing it after reading some of the reviews on Amazon. However, I was able to download it from my local library, and now I listen to it (ten CDs, total) in the car when I am not listening to NPR, stories meant for children (I am a mom), or Christmas music ('tis the season, right?).

So, I keep coming back to a couple of chapters again and again, and one of them is Chapter Six, Prototyping is the Short Hand of Innovation. This chapter deals specifically with prototyping. I guess the biggest point in this chapter is that prototyping isn't just model-making to Ideo. It is sketching, doodling, drawing, making and testing the model until their team is confident the product is ready to for production. It seems that all of the prep work before the product comes out is prototyping. Everything has to be checked to see what is right and what is not right for the product. The author likes to point out that constantly getting thoughts out on paper is the way they are able to work out solutions to problems, and essentially have the tools to innovate.

I also liked the story about the steering wheel that could only be prototyped in a red plastic to show the client in time for their scheduled deadline and meeting. The client loved the color so much it inspired a wide range of colorful steering wheels that were manufactured as components to video games.

The chapter also focused on the variety of extremes their company has gone to test a prototype - it has to be tested in the real world under real conditions.

I suppose the other chapter I really enjoyed is chapter four, The Perfect Brainstorm - Really, all of us need to get over feeling like an idea is embarrassing or not applicable and just get out the first things that come to mind when we sit down to actually do a brainstorm as a class. I can honestly say I have enjoyed brainstorming with everyone in our metals classes much more this semester than last semester. That is because I have been very forward and direct with my thoughts and ideas during our brainstorming sessions, without really caring if everyone liked or disliked what I said. The idea was to let every crazy inconceivable notion come out into the open in the beginning, and sorting the better ideas would come later.

Brainstorms that were memorable this semester were on the "Definition of Hollow Form" and our somewhat informal "Iconic Form". I was pretty sad to miss our "What is a Ring?" brainstorm, especially since the Walters Museum in Baltimore really set me in the mood for challenging what a ring form and purpose has traditionally meant and translating that to a modern form today.

Things we are missing to make our brainstorms like Ideo's:

1) tell the boss to leave the Jan the boss? Do we feel pressure because we don't want to come up with an idea that she doesn't like? Or are we more fearful of blurting out ideas in front of our peers?

2)chocolate chip cookies. Yes, the book recommends chocolate chip cookies to get the ball rolling.

Fun Facts: Ideo came up with the Coinstar machine. I haven't used one yet, but now I want to, just to get more of the Ideo experience, without buying a heart stream defibrillator, for example.

So I bought another book instead: IDEO: Eyes Open New York. It was passed around on the bus we took to New York City this year. I only bought it because I saw who the authors were (Ideo) and the reviews on Amazon were good. This book reads like a little guide into the speakeasies and not so well known places in New York that might interest hip tourists. Hey, I'm hip. I like off the beaten path places. And I especially like the small size of the guide with color pictures.

I have yet to visit one of those places, but I think Rice to Riches may be my first stop - the restaurant featured on page 23 has a sign on their window, "Eat all you're already fat."

No comments: