Todd Henry is the founder and CEO of Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams generate brilliant ideas. He regularly speaks and consults with companies, both large and small, about how to develop practices and systems that lead to everyday brilliance. Todd’s work has been featured by Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes, HBR.org, US News & World Report, and many other major media outlets. His book, The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, offers strategies for how to thrive in the creative marketplace and has been called “one of the best books to date on how to structure your ideas, and manage the creative process and work that comes out of it” by Jack Covert, author of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time and founder of 800-CEO-READ. You can connect with Todd here, or learn more about how to hire him to speak at your event or train your team.
Here is my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing The Accidental Creative, a few general questions. First, Who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth?
Henry: I have a counter-intuitive answer to this. Probably the biggest influence on my personal growth was a 20th-century mystic and monk named Thomas Merton. It seems strange that a man who lived the biggest part of the late years of his life in isolation and contemplation would have much to say to a 21st-century, tech-immersed creative, but I found his writings to be deeply reflective on the nature of humanity, and also an illumination on the mechanics of doing important work.
If I were talking only about contemporary influences, I would have to say that I’ve been incredibly blessed to be around a group of mentors who, over a period of several years, really made it a project to develop me and help me understand both my capacity and my limitations. It was in this virtual incubator for leadership that I first discovered my voice and began reflecting deeply on the creative process.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course that you continue to follow?
Henry: I was a leader in an organization trying to scale a team while helping them handle the pressures and demands we were facing, and in my effort to do so I reached out to several other creative directors who I knew would be dealing with the same issues. My biggest question for them was, “How do you serve your team, and help them do their best work without burning them out?” They stared at me like I was from another planet. “What you mean?” they almost unanimously asked. In other words, it had never occurred to them that it might be possible to exist in any create on-demand environment and be simultaneously healthy in the way you approach your work. This began a long journey for me of exploring whether or not it was possible to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy simultaneously in life and work. This research eventually led to my company, which now shares these insights with teams around the world, and then eventually to the book, The Accidental Creative.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education proven invaluable to what you have accomplished in your life thus far?
Henry: It may be cliché but I believe that the biggest contribution formal education made to my career accomplishments is that I learned how to structure my uncertainty and questions into a format that could be pursued and digested effectively. I learned to deal with ambiguity and suffer through process. When I was in school, information wasn’t so readily available, and there was more risk involved in pursuing a specific avenue of research. It was much more difficult (and costly!) to pivot mid-course, so it forced me to stay focused while going about my work. This allowed me to develop the capacity of deep, intermittent focus that has served me in my work as a professional creative.
Morris: In your opinion, what are the most significant differences between creativity and innovation?
Henry: The definition of innovation I use is “progressive and useful change” which typically involves (or at least begins with) a creative act. Creativity, at the heart of it, is problem solving. A designer might solve a problem visually, while a manager might do so by thinking up a new system. But that creative act is only innovation once it’s applied and creates useful change.
Morris: What do you say in response to someone who says, “I’m just not creative”?
Henry: I would say they are wrong. We are all creative, because we all have the ability to solve problems and create value with our mind. I think the biggest reason people say “I’m not creative” is because they confuse creativity with art. The very act of holding a conversation – which most of us can do – is a creative act, because it’s based on improvisation! Once we re-frame creativity as problem-solving, it helps people see their own creative capacity in new ways.
Morris: Isaac Asimov once observed, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, ‘hmm… that’s funny…’” Do you agree with him?
Henry: Yes! Steven Johnson has called this the “slow hunch” and I agree. Brilliant work is most frequently the result of focused, laborious effort punctuated by moments of insight, all of which is driven by curiosity sourced in the slow hunch. It’s only when we stay with the problem long enough to recognize those anomalies that we are positioned for breakthroughs. To do this we must develop the ability to ask incisive questions. The questions are – in my opinion – far more important than the answers. Every answer must lead to a new question.
Morris: Here is another quotation, this time from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” By what process can one get to “the other side of complexity”?
Henry: The trouble is that we get to the other side of complexity for a moment, only to find that there’s far more complexity to be conquered. The creative process is the perpetual assault on the beachhead of apathy, which means that we must fight a daily battle against our natural desire to stay in our comfort zone. Steven Pressfield calls this battling “Resistance” and I’m in 100% agreement. To get to those flashes of clarity – simplicity – requires persistent daily, and sometimes seemingly fruitless effort. At the same time, I don’t know that the illusion of simplicity lasts for long. Most creatives I know experience a brief, shining moment of satisfaction before they begin to see holes in their work. That’s what propels us to keep striving – the promise of greater clarity and simplicity.
Morris: Many major breakthroughs in creativity and innovation are the result of counter-intuitive thinking. For example, combining a wine press with separable type (Gutenberg and the printing press), removal of burrs from a pet’s hair with an attachment (George de Mestral and VELCRO), and leather softener with skin care (Mark Kay Cosmetics).
Here is my two-part question: What are the major differences between intuition and counter-intuition? What (if anything) do intuition and counter-intuition share in common?
Henry: I think intuition and counter-intuition are all about framing. A problem framed in a certain way leads to an intuitive solution. When framed in a different way, the same solution appears counter-intuitive. I believe that so much of this is determined by the focus of the individual solving the problem, and the stimuli that prompt their search for a solution. That’s why I believe it’s critical to maintain a proper level of focus on the true problems you’re trying to solve. If you don’t regularly define your work, you’re likely to drift and you’re less likely to notice those moments of intuitive or counter-intuitive serendipity.
Morris: Of all the books you have read, from which one have you learned the most about creativity and innovation? Please explain.
Henry: From an innovation standpoint, it’s really hard to top The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. He thoroughly nailed the dynamics of living and working in a marketplace that requires perpetual reinvention, and I believe also unintentionally defined the single biggest factors that cause creative professionals to feel frustrated, under-utilized, and disengaged in their daily work. Purely from a “mechanics of creativity” standpoint, I’d say that I learned the most from Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. I also greatly enjoyed Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is a synthesis of his research into creativity across multiple domains.
Morris: Within the last few years, there have been several excellent books published in which thought leaders such as Roger Martin, Chris Brown, and Roberto Verganti discuss the design of business. In your opinion, why has this subject attracted so much attention?
Henry: Over the past many years it’s become obvious that design can’t be an after-thought, because it’s actually good business as well. We are in an age where ideas flow freely and with less friction, and many of the traditional means of creating and distributing goods were based on creating friction rather than eliminating it. Great design is about eliminating friction so that consumers can identify, connect with, and consume what they want when they want it. Good design, from operations all the way through the final point-of-sale communication, is critical in eliminating that friction, especially now that consumers have so many choices.
Morris: What are the defining characteristics of a workplace environment within which creativity and innovation are most stimulated, nourished, and when necessary, protected?
Henry: There is no one-size-fits-all solution, though many still try to find it. In my experience, the most innovative and productive workplace environments have less to do with physical space than psychological space. Is there clarity of purpose? Are we rewarded for the things that move the needle, such as taking measured risks, asking good questions, and spending ourselves on behalf of the work? Do we foster an environment of conversation, or of secrecy? No one goes to work in the morning hoping to crank out a mediocre pile of misery, yet over time our work environments either reward continual growth, or encourage systemic mediocrity. You’re either growing or dying, there is no stagnancy. But growth is difficult and messy, and requires persistent effort. Many give up when it’s “good enough.” (One of the best examinations I’ve read of teams who accomplished great, innovative things is Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman.)
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Todd cordially invites you to check out the resources at The Accidental Creative website by clicking here.
This book should be read in combination with A Whack on the Side of the Head…preferably after you have read that book. At least that’s my suggestion. In Kick, first published in 1986, von Oech introduces four stereotypes: The Explorer, The Artist, The Judge, and The Warrior.
Von Oech devotes a separate chapter to each. Also, he assigns to each quite different values, priorities, mindsets, predispositions, and parameters relative to creative thinking. This is a brilliant conceit. In varying proportions, each of us is (simultaneously) an Explorer, an Artist, a Judge, and a Warrior. Each plays an important role in the creative process. Von Oech explains how and why.
As in A Whack on the Side of the Head, he provides various exercises in combination with a rigorous analysis of each of the four stereotypes. As is true of Whack, Kick will be immensely valuable to executives in any organization that needs a culture within which to generate and then nourish fresh ideas and new perspectives. The same is true of all self-employed people (especially independent consultants) whose customers or clients expect them to address the same need. Finally, I think that school, college, and university classroom teachers can devise all manner of appropriate applications of von Oech’s ideas.
I strongly recommend both Whack and Kick. Also von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack card deck and the more recently published Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It): A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus. Read and then re-read all three. Absorb and digest the material. Let the ideas percolate for a while. (The material in all three is remarkably cohesive…and intellectually combustible.) Then try this experiment the next time you and others in your organization get together to brainstorm. Whoever chairs the discussion is designated the Judge. Depending on the size of the group, designate one or two others to be (respectively) the Explorer, the Artist, and the Warrior. Require everyone to think and comment ONLY within the strict limits of each assigned role. After about 15-20 minutes of brainstorming, re-assign all roles. Same requirement: each must think and comment only within the strict limits of her or his role. No exceptions.(Once you read Kick, you’ll know exactly what I am suggesting…also why.) I’ll bet you a beverage of your choice that the results will surprise and delight everyone involved. Also, and more to the point, it will prove to be the most productive brainstorm session that anyone in the group had as yet participated in. Just think (creatively, of course) how much more will be accomplished at the next session!
In addition to von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head, there are other excellent books also worthy of your consideration. They include those written by Edward De Bono, Guy Claxton, Michael Michalko, and Joey Reiman.
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Roger von Oech is the founder and president of Creative Think, a California-based consulting firm that specializes in stimulating creativity and innovation. He has given seminars and presentations to corporations worldwide, including Coca-Cola, GE, Disney, Intel, MTV, Microsoft, NASA, Apple, Citigroup, and the United States Olympic Committee. He is the author of two previous creative-thinking books, A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, as well as the popular Creative Whack Pack card deck. He lives with his wife and children in Atherton, California.
A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative
Roger von Oech
Business Plus, 25th Anniversary Edition (2008)
Note: When preparing for some interviews, I re-read several books on the creative process and remain convinced that all are still among the best. This one is indeed a business classic.
This book should be read in combination with A Kick in the Seat of the Pants…and preferably read first. Just a suggestion. Von Oech demonstrates in his thinking and in his writing the same principles he advocates so eloquently. In Whack, first published in 1983, he identifies ten “locks” which that (if not preclude) creative thinking:
• The Right Answer
• That’s Not Logical
• Follow the Rules • Be Practical
• Play Is Frivolous
• That’s Not My Area
• Avoid Ambiguity
• Don’t Be Foolish
• To Err Is Wrong
• I’m Not Creative
How does each limit (if not preclude) creative thinking? How can each be “unlocked”? To what extent are these barriers interdependent? Von Oech devotes a separate chapter to each of the ten, answering these and other questions while providing various exercises in support of his explanations.
Whack will be immensely valuable to executives in any organization which needs a culture within which to generate and then nourish fresh ideas and new perspectives. The same is true of all self-employed people (especially independent consultants) whose customers or clients expect them to address the same need. Finally, I think that school, college, and university classroom teachers can devise all manner of appropriate applications of von Oech’s ideas. When you listen to Richard Feyman’s lectures on physics (now available on CDs and videos), you suspect that he has read all of von Oech’s books. He probably didn’t. Nonetheless, he and von Oech are kindred spirits.
In addition to von Oech’s A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, there are other excellent books also worthy of your consideration. They include those written by Edward De Bono, Guy Claxton, Michael Michalko, and Joey Reiman.
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Roger von Oech is the founder and president of Creative Think, a California-based consulting firm that specializes in stimulating creativity and innovation. He has given seminars and presentations to corporations worldwide, including Coca-Cola, GE, Disney, Intel, MTV, Microsoft, NASA, Apple, Citigroup, and the United States Olympic Committee. As indicated, he is the author of A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, as well as the popular Creative Whack Pack card deck. He lives with his wife and children in Atherton, California.
Note: When preparing for some interviews, I recently re-read several books on the creative process and remain convinced that all are still among the best. Case in point….
Pass the Idea
I presume to suggest that you read this book before you read De Bono’s Six Action Shoes and strongly urge you to read both. As he explains in Chapter 6, “The first value of the six thinking hats is that of defined role-playing…[the second] is that of attention directing…[the third] is that of convenience…[and the fourth] is the possible basis in brain chemistry” which De Bono outlines in the previous chapter.
What about the hats? The conceit is brilliant. Each hat is of a different color: white, red, black, yellow, green, and blue. De Bono assigns to each a quite specific combination of qualities and characteristics. Since childhood, my favorite color has always been green. Here is what de Bono says about it: “Green is grass, vegetation, and abundant., fertile growth. The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas.” De Bono also briefly characterizes the other colors and then devotes an entire chapter to discussing each of them in depth.
According to the subtitle, De Bono provides “an essential approach to business management.” That is true. He helps his reader to increase various reasoning skills through carefully defined and structured role-playing, and, by directing and then focusing attention where it is needed most. How? By understanding and then developing entirely different perspectives that the various hats represent: White (neutral and objective), Red (powerful emotions), Black (gloomy and negative), Yellow (sunny and positive), Green (fertile and creative), and Blue (logical and in control). You get the idea. De Bono urges his reader to SEE all of the hats while associating with each its own defining qualities and characteristics.
Here’s an exercise (inspired by De Bono’s ideas) that will work very well with those who have been required to read Six Thinking Hats prior to getting together to brainstorm. Buy several of those delightful Dr. Seuss hats (at least one of each of the six different colors, more if needed) and keep the hats out of sight until everyone is seated. Review the agenda. Review what de Bono says about what each color represents. Then distribute the Dr. Seuss hats, making certain that someone is wearing a hat of each color. Proceed with the discussion, chaired by a person wearing a Blue or White hat. It is imperative that whoever wears a Black hat, for example, be consistently negative and argumentative whereas whoever wears a Yellow must be consistently positive and supportive. After about 15-20 minutes, have each person change to a different colored hat. Resume discussion. Thanks to de Bono and (yes) to Dr. Seuss, you can expect to have an especially enjoyable as well as productive session.
In addition to De Bono’s Six Action Shoes, there are other excellent books also worthy of your consideration. They include those written by Guy Claxton, Michael Michalko, Joey Reiman, and Roger von Oech.
After having read and reviewed so many business books, I now share brief comments about what I consider to be the 25 most valuable business insights and identify the books in which they are either introduced or (one man’s opinion) best explained. Here are the first five:
1. Analytics: With rare exception, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. It is imperative to select criteria (metrics) that are relevant, inclusive, comprehensive, etc. and then apply them consistently. It is critically important to be alert to variances and, when they occur, to what caused them.
Best Source: Competing of Analytics: The New Science of Winning co-authored by Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris.
2. Branding: Over time a brand has evolved from what is burned into the hide of cattle to a name, then to a logo, later to a positive association and now to an experience. Today, marketing creates or increases demand with the promise of what (preferably) a multi-sensory, pleasurable experience.
Best Source: Bern Schmidt’s Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and Relate to Your Company and Brands
3. Business Narrative (Storytelling): The powder and value of this genre has only recently been recognized. Basically, the business narrative focuses on a specific situation in which various “characters” proceed through a sequence of events (plot). Issues are raised, conflicts develop, and eventually there is a resolution (climax). Most of the best business presentations are in the form of a narrative. Why? Because they entertain as well as inform and thus are more convincing. More to the point, they anchor the material in hum an experience with which an audience can identify/
Best Source: Stephen Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative
4. Coaching: Like ice cream, coaches come in a wide variety of flavors. The most effective are those who have highly-developed expertise in the given subject(s) as well as emotional intelligence (i.e. people skills), communicate clearly, and (like gardeners) are masters at “growing” human development.
Best Source: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, written by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter, and Verne Hornish’s Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm
5. Creativity: The general viewpoint is that innovation makes something better whereas creativity makes something new. However, in my opinion, developing a creative mindset that is always active is far more important than the occasional “something” it produces. The mindset is “open” in that it is receptive to what is unfamiliar as well as to what emerges from an unexpected source; it challenges assumptions and premises (especially those that result from what James O’Toole characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of comfort”); and it has highly-developed integrative thinking. It is worth noting that all of the greatest inventions throughout history were first envisioned before they were constructed.
Best Sources: Guy Claxton, Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, and Roger Martin’s Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking
Note: You may also wish to check out Most Valuable Business Insights: 6-10.
Randy Mayeux has already shared his choices and all are eminently worthy, to which I presume to add a few others.
Please keep in mind that this list is (as are Randy and I) a work in progress.
The Right Values
True North by Bill George and Peter Sims
The Executive’s Compass by James O’Toole
The Highest Goal by Michael Ray
The Heart Aroused by David Whyte
The Right Strategy
The Opposable Mind by Roger L. Martin
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Unstoppable by Chris Zook
Enterprise Architecture as Strategy by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson
Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott
Encouraging the Heart by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
Maestro by Roger Nierenberg
True North by Bill George and Peter Sims
Words that Work by Frank Luntz
Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Influence by Robert Cialdini
The Back of the Napkin and Unfolding the Napkin by Dan Roam
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Functional & Effective Teamwork
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman
Collaboration by Morten Hansen
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Cultivating Creativity and Innovation
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
Freedom, Inc. by Brian M. Carney and Isaac Getz
The Idea of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation by Thomas Kelley
Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono
Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind by Guy Claxton
Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki
The Other Side of Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
Open Innovation and Open Business Models by Henry Chesbrough
Plus two additional categories:
Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice co-edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana
The Talent Masters by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan
The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development co-edited by Ellen Van Velsor, Cynthia D. McCauley, and Marian N. Ruderman
Extraordinary Leadership co-edited by Kerry Bunker, Douglas T. Hall, and Kathy E. Kram
Employee Engagement & Talent Management
A Sense of Urgency and Buy-In by John Kotter
The Art of Engagement by Jim Haudan
Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees by Lee J. Colan
Growing Great Employees by Erika Andersen
Here is my take on what Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson learned during a lengthy and probing study of the Pixar culture:
1. Celebrate failure with the same intensity as you celebrate success. View each setback as a precious learning opportunity.
2. Become a “prototype junky.” There is no project too big [or too small] to conduct a real-world test of it within a few weeks.
3. Develop your own “skunk works” within the organization. [click here.], At least form a small group and enable it to meet regularly to brainstorm how best to answer questions, solve problems, and respond to unmet needs…especially those identified by past and current customers.
4. Dream BIG. Ask team members to think of ten over-the-top, outlandish, eccentric, far-out, wacky, unheard-of, unorthodox ideas for a project.
Note: In the most innovative organizations (such as IDEO, Nike, Apple, and yes, Pixar), two quite different approaches are taken: generate lots of what Jobs calls “an insanely great idea” and then decide what to do with them, or, tackle an especially serious problem with a totally open mind.
5. Don’t cry poor. The best new ideas tend to be produced by groups whose members are world-class scroungers. External limits and constraints tend to inspire original thinking and below-the-radar initiatives.
6. Planning is OK but do not allow the process to be a distraction from achieving the desired objective. Beware of meetings and considerations devoted to “planning to plan.” General George Patton once said, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan next week.”
7. Each project is a “work in progress” so establish a planning center (perhaps online) where evidence of progress is on display. Grab low-hanging fruit” ASAP and celebrate completion of “baby steps” to reassure everyone that progress really is being made.
8. Forget about lengthy meetings, reports, analyses, etc. What’s happening NOW? Why is it happening? What more needs to be done? Who will do it? Everyone involved must have a sense of urgency. John Wooden said it best: “Be quick but don’t rush.”
9. Assume authority and do whatever must be done and done NOW. If appropriate, ask for forgiveness later. That said, be sure to do your homework, consider all the possible implications and consequences, and be prepared to explain later why the initiative you took had risks but the decision to make it was rigorously thought-through and prudent. Also be fully prepared to explained what of value was learned, especially if action was unsuccessful.
I highly recommend Capodagli and Jackson’s Innovate the Pixar Way: Business Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Corporate Playground, published by McGraw-Hill (2010).
The best books on brainstorming, idea generation, etc.? Check out these two:
The Idea of Innovation
The Ten Faces of Innovation
If you need additional assistance:
A Knock on the Side of the Head
A Kick in the Seat of the Pants
Roger Von Oech
Thinkertoys (Second Edition)
Jump Start Your Brain
Six Thinking Hats
Edward De Bono
I recently re-read two books written by Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman, this one and The Art of Innovation. In both, Kelley provides a wealth of information and counsel which can help any decision-maker to “drive creativity” through her or his organization but only if initiatives are (a) a collaboration which receives the support and encouragement of senior management (especially of the CEO) and (b) sufficient time is allowed for those initiatives to have a measurable impact. There is a distressing tendency throughout most organizations to rip out “seedlings” to see how well they are “growing.” Six Sigma programs offer a compelling example. Most are abandoned within a month or two. Why? Unrealistic expectations, cultural barriers (what Jim O’Toole characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom”), internal politics, and especially impatience are among the usual suspects. That said, I agree with countless others (notably Teresa Amabile, Clayton Christensen, Guy Claxton, Edward de Bono, Peter Drucker, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Michael Michalko, Michael Ray, and Roger von Oech) that innovation is now the single most decisive competitive advantage. How to establish and then sustain that advantage?
In an earlier work, The Art of Innovation, Kelley shares IDEO’s five-step methodology: Understand the market, the client, the technology, and the perceived constraints on the given problem; observe real people in real-life situations; literally visualize new-to-the-world concepts AND the customers who will use them; evaluate and refine the prototypes in a series of quick iterations; and finally, implement the new concept for commercialization. With regard to the last “step”, as Warren Bennis Patricia and Ward Biederman explain in Organizing Genius, Apple executives immediately recognized the commercial opportunities for PARC’s technology. Larry Tesler (who later left PARC for Apple) noted that Jobs and colleagues (especially Wozniak) “wanted to get it out to the world.” But first, obviously, the challenge was to create that “it” which they then did.
In this volume, as Kelley explains, his book is “about innovation with a human face. [Actually, at least ten...hence its title.] It’s about the individuals and teams that fuel innovation inside great organizations. Because all great movements are human-powered.” He goes on to suggest that all good working definitions of innovation pair ideas with action, “the spark with fire. Innovators don’t just have their heads in the clouds. They also have their feet on the ground.” Kelley cites and then examines several exemplary (“great”) organizations that include Google, W.L. Gore & Associates, the Gillette Company, and German retailer Tchibo. I especially appreciate the fact that Kelley focuses on the almost unlimited potential for creativity of individuals and the roles which they can play, “the hats they can put on, the personas they can adopt…[albeit] unsung heroes who work on the front lines of entrepreneurship in action, the countless people and teams who make innovation happen day in and day out.”
Because organizations need individuals who are savvy about the counterintuitive process of how to move ideas forward, Kelley recommends three “Organizing Personas”: The Hurdler, The Collaborator, and The Director.
Because organizations also need individuals and teams who apply insights from the learning roles and channel the empowerment from the organizing roles to make innovation happen, Kelley recommends four “Building personas”: The Experience Architect, The Set Designer, The Caregiver, and The Storyteller. Note both the sequence, interrelatedness and, indeed, the interdependence of these ten “personas.”
What Kelley achieves in this volume is to develop in much greater depth than do von Oech and de Bono what are essentially ten different perspectives. He does so, brilliantly, by focussing the bulk of his attention of those who, for example, seek and explore new opportunities to reveal breakthrough insights…and while doing so wear (at least metaphorically) one of de Bono’s hats (probably the green one). Kelley devotes a separate chapter to each of the ten “personas,” including real-world examples of various “unsung heroes who work on the front lines of entrepreneurship in action, the countless people and teams who make innovation happen day in and day out.”