Overview of this Interview: This is an interview with Tom Kelley on many aspects of leading at IDEO and the things they are still learning as a company.
Thoughts on this Interview: Vern Burkhardt does a great job of asking insightful questions into the things that Tom has learned as a leader in a company that is rewriting the rules of design and business. I appreciate that Tom brings the importance that Face to Face communications as a primary issues for effectiveness.
Original Interview HERE at ideaconnection.com
Design Thinking for Innovation
Interview with Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO, and Author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation
Vern Burkhardt (VB): What are some of the most interesting and exciting parts of your job as General Manager of IDEO?
Tom Kelley: The most interesting and exciting are tapping into the collective brain of the 530 people who work at IDEO. I am not a designer, engineer, or anthropologist so I don’t generate the source material at IDEO. I am the lucky guy who gets to tap into the reservoir of great insights that are being generated there every day.
I recently spent three days at an off-site meeting where most of the participants were IDEO people from around the world. They shared new insights about healthcare, green technology, and media entertainment projects we are working on. Wow, it was an incredible download because there’s a lot of interesting ‘stuff’ going on. Being a part of that community is one of the most interesting aspects of my job.
VB: It’s a highly creative environment.
Tom Kelley: Since we are members of the same family at IDEO open sharing occurs. It’s fun to see the latest things. It’s the future because these are innovations that haven’t yet been announced to the world.
VB: You say if you could choose just one persona it would be the Anthropologist. No doubt because you are adept at one of the hardest parts of the innovation process – “seeing with fresh eyes”. Which one or two of the other nine personas do you especially enjoy playing in terms of “being innovative?” [Vern's note: Tom Kelley describes ten 'roles' – the 'personas' – various members of an innovation team may choose to take on. They are the learning personas (Anthropologist, Experimenter, and Cross-pollinator), the organizing personas (Hurdler, Collaborator and Director), and the building personas (Experience Architect, Set Designer, Caregiver, and Storyteller).]
Tom Kelley: Anthropology is number one in my mind, but I also love the Experience Architect. The Experience Architect takes the insights from anthropology and other sources, and converts them into the customer experience, employee experience, or whatever is the target audience. How you translate or adapt insights into action when thinking about the customer journey and trying to be special at every step along the way, rather than only considering your product as a commodity is fascinating.
I also like the Set Designer. They’re the person who uses the physical environment as a strategic tool to influence the attitude, behavior, or even the performance of the team that works in a physical space. While it may not be the most powerful of the innovation roles, it’s often the persona most frequently overlooked. People don’t think of space as being strategic. At IDEO we think space can be quite strategic, and that it can affect everything that happens.
There is a new book out titled Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. I am in the middle of reading it. The authors talk about how making small changes can make a difference. For example, retailers understand that if you put candy at the eye level of young children they will grab onto it, and their mom will be encouraged to buy it. That’s not necessarily a positive nudge, but it works and increases sales.
In the same way, small changes in the work environment can change behavior, encourage interactions, get people to share more things, and keep people from being isolated. It can make for better brain storming sessions. That’s why I like the Set Designer.
VB: It can keep people from becoming stale? Read the rest of this entry »