Spending some time working through Tom Kelley's The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm. One of my favorite reads of the last 10 years was his The Ten Faces of Innovation.  This is an earlier work, a highly regarded look into a great design firm…and an innovation leader.

How do they do it?  Their method has five basic steps:

  1. "Understand the market, the client, the technology, and the perceived constraints."  I personally love the word perceived.  It opens to door to challenge it later.
  2. "Observe real people in real-life situations to find out what makes them tick."  This is about the discovery of unrecognized needs.
  3. "Visualize new-to-the-world concepts and the customers who will use them."  Not gazing into some crystal ball.  Instead, spend effort and energy building prototypes along the way. 
  4. "Evaluate and refine the prototypes in a series of quick iterations."  This is significant.  It's not fire, ready, aim.  It's more like taking quick shots at what it looks like, then adjust, look at it again, adjust, and keep going.
  5. "Implement the new concept for commercialization."  Not enough to dream or even to prototype.  Must launch and get the new concept into the environment.

I can tell this is going to be a great read.  No doubt it will inform our discussion around here.  Want to come along?  You can order your copy right here.

The Art of Innovation