One of the most important figures in the field of Design Thinking is Tom Kelley, one of the heads of IDEO along with his brother David.

Recently, Tom was interviewed by High Resolution (video above) about his thoughts on Innovation and Design Thinking.

Main points discussed in the interview:

  1. Design isn’t a thing, it is a mindset, which you can use to focus on any type of challenge
  2. In his view, innovation is “a fresh idea + implementation that adds value”
  3. When he first had people from social sciences come into IDEO, which originally was more engineering focussed, he didn’t immediately see their value. But he quickly saw the value they brought because Design Thinking at its core is about humans.
  4. IDEO Anthropologists carefully observe and listen well to people in order to get personal insights, and most people don’t officially hold an anthropology degree. The important part is that you go out without an agenda, and look with a “beginner’s mind”.
  5. Engineers “experts” and people from the client team who will eventually look for or approve solutions to problems should also come along when speaking with people and getting insights, otherwise they might not trust the data
  6. People lose their creativity in youth because they begin to care what people think. Creativity can be brought back to people:
    • Let people act as though they are already having creative thoughts
    • Have people protect the time when they feel they are creative
    • Encourage people to write down their ideas in these moments
  7. A lot of people think they are not creative because they can’t draw. He gives an example of when he had two candidates and he asked them to go and draw something on a whiteboard, but they were both reluctant. The first one was an MBA student who said “I can’t draw, I don’t have the artistic background of these other people”. But the other person didn’t want to do it, even though he went to Arts School, and his reasoning was “If you gave me enough time, I know I can draw something worth putting on the cover of a magazine. But I don’t want to be judged by what I am able to produce when I only have 10 seconds”. People are afraid of being judged.
  8. You should phrase as many things as experiments as possible, so they can be done faster and cheaper. And if the CEO or senior executives show they are part of the experiment, it will significantly reduce the pushback from other management
  9. Once you have run an experiment and found a success, you can ask “What would prevent us from doing this better thing all the time?”
  10. There is difference between a job, a career, and a calling
  11. There are people who have very deep understanding and expertise in a certain topic, but other people who have a very broad understanding of a wide range of topics. In the future (and today), there will be problems which can only be solved by broad approaches.
  12. The best way to show the value of design is by showing proof from other examples and companies.
  13. If you want to have an impact, tell a story, instead of just reciting bullet points and facts.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.