Tom Kelley is one of those behind-the-scene creatives whom you may not have heard of, but you’ve almost certainly seen his work. As the General Manager at IDEO, he has worked with innovative teams on numerous design projects: a portable defibrillator, a new shopping cart, a bike/walker combination for seniors called the Trikka, the PillPack designed to change the way people take pharmaceuticals, and an innovative store design for Walgreen’s, among hundreds of other unique inventions.
Mr. Kelley is the author of three books on creativity and innovation: The Art of Innovation (a behind the scenes look at IDEO’s processes), Creative Confidence (about how anyone can be a “creative”), and The Ten Faces of Innovation (a profile of the different personalities who promote creativity). He has spoken at TED and is an Executive Fellow at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and the University of Tokyo.
As one of the world’s experts on creativity and design thinking, Mr. Kelley has had a lot to say about innovation and creating new opportunities. Here are a few things he’s written or said that we think will inspire entrepreneurs and small business owners in your startup:
“I used to think that to make something happen in a corporation or in the army, you had to be at the higher ranks, to be a general. But you just need to start a movement.”
“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”
“The key element of the art of innovation is treating life as an experiment—living with the idea that you need to continuously try things as opposed to just sticking to the knitting.”
“Ultimately it comes down to passion. It’s about doing the things you love, because it’s no secret that if you do something you love, you will be better at it.”
“The history of discovery is full of creative serendipity.”
“If you leave out the emotional content, you may have the best specifications in the world but people may not buy your product or service. Does the Apple IPod have better specs, or better data storage per dollar spent than other MP3 players? I don’t think so, but it speaks to emotion.”
“Noticing that something is broken is an essential prerequisite for coming up with a creative solution to fix it.”
“Cool technology alone is not enough. If it were, we’d all be riding Segways and playing with robotic dogs.”
“Good companies embrace a culture of mini-failures.”
“Identify every barrier that keeps people away from your offerings, especially for first-time customers. Then systematically tackle each one, using a combination of simplicity, clear communication, and customer-centered design.”
“…find the silver lining in every cloud. Setbacks aren’t problems, they’re opportunities.”
“Organizations should allow serendipity to happen, because I believe that all of the magic is at the intersection of disciplines now. You cannot win the game just by having better engineers or better marketers than the people down the street. You can’t win. Someone is always going to come along who is better. The magic is at the intersection between anthropology and engineering and marketing or whatever, where you cluster things in a different way, and you say, ‘Hey, here is something people need that they didn’t know they needed.’”
—Tom Kelley, Author and General Manager, IDEO