Innovation Quotes

Tom Kelley quotes on innovation

Tom Kelley

A partner at the renowned design and innovation consultancy IDEO as well as a best-selling author




Value Innovation

New opportunities for innovation open up when you start the creative problem-solving process with empathy toward your target audience >>>

Empathy means challenging your preconceived ideas and setting aside your sense of what you think is true in order to learn what actually is true that people aren’t conscious of.

We are not funs of focus groups. We don't much care for traditional market research either. We go to the source. Not the "experts" inside a company, but the actual people who use the product or something similar to what we're hoping to create. It's precisely this observation-fueled insight that makes innovation possible. Uncovering what comes naturally to people. And having the strengths to change the rules >>>

Look wider. Don't focus too much on your competition – spend as much time learn from noncompetitive industries as well. Knowing the state of the art or the soon-to-be state of the art in one industry can give you a jump in your chosen field.

Cool technology alone is not enough. If it were, we’d all be riding Segways and playing with robotic dogs.  >>>

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 >>>

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.

Entrepreneurial Creativity

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 first step toward a great answer is to reframe the question.

Everything in modern society is the result of a collection of decisions made by someone. Why shouldn’t that someone be you >>>

At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you.

There’s no word in the Tibetan language for “creativity” or “being creative.” The closest translation is “natural.

We didn't know as children that we were creative. We just knew that it was okay for us to try experiments that sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed. That we could keep creating, keep tinkering, and trust that something interesting would result if we just stuck with it.

The history of discovery is full of creative serendipity >>>

Noticing that something is broken is an essential prerequisite for coming up with a creative solution to fix it.  >>>

That combination of thought and action defines creative confidence: the ability to come up with new ideas and the courage to try them out.  >>>

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 >>>

It turns out that creativity isn’t some rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few ‒ it’s a natural part of human thinking and behavior. In too many of us it gets blocked. But it can be unblocked. And unblocking that creative spark can have far-reaching implications for yourself, your organization, and your community.

Relentless practice creates a database of experience that you can draw upon to make more enlightened choices.

 To act, most of us must first overcome the fears that have blocked our creativity in the past.

No matter how high you rise in your career, no matter how much expertise you gain, you still need to keep your knowledge and your insights refreshed. Otherwise, you may develop a false confidence in what you already “know” that might lead you to the wrong decision.  >>>

Culture for Innovation

Great groups are more optimistic than realistic. They believe they can do what no one else has done before.

Newcomers that flourish in our environment are often offered a key role in a new project, or even an opportunity to manage a project. Age and experience aren't factors. You actually get to pick two or three people who will review your work, and IDEOers invariably pick team members. And since we live for projects, there's an opportunity to spread the work around.

Make brainstorming a religion. The buzz of a good brainstormer can infect a team with optimism and sense of opportunity that can carry it through the darkest and most pressure-tinged stages of the project.  >>>

Play with your physical workplace in a way that sends positive "body language" to employees and visitors.  >>>

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.  >>>

Good companies embrace a culture of mini-failures.

Pranks became second nature. When Hovey left for a week's vacation, he returned to find a sheetrock wall where his door has been. Windshield cement inspired many office pranks: You'd leave your desk only to return to find everything glued down: soda cans, papers, pens. David's door was once glued shut when he was getting a pitch from a salesperson. Another office was webbed in by the sticky trails from a hot glue gun. There were rubber band wars and squirt skirmishes (similar to the pranks at Apple at the time), and plenty of water balloons dropped out of the window.  >>>

The pranks and play served a purpose – gave people a sense that they had some control over their destiny, a feeling of belonging to something larger then themselves.  >>>

Innovation Process

Design your space for flexibility instead of inertia and the status quo.

If you want a team of smart, creative people to do extraordinary things, don’t put them in a drab, ordinary space.

Create hot teams, not dull teams. A hot team is infused with purpose, personality, and a great passion about doing great things or projects together.

Build bridges from one department to another, from your company to your prospective customers, and ultimately from the present to the future.  >>>

Break rules and "fail forward" so that change is part of the culture, and little setback is experienced.  >>>

Fail often to succeed sooner.  >>>

It’s not about just coming up with the one genius idea that solves the problem, but trying and failing at a hundred other solutions before arriving at the best one.

Find the silver lining in every cloud. Setbacks aren’t problems, they’re opportunities.

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.  >>>

Quick prototyping is about acting before you've got the answers, about taking chances, stumbling a little, but then making it right. When you're creating something new to the world, you can't look over your shoulder to see what your competitors are doing; you have to find another source of inspiration. Once you start drawing or making things, you open up new possibilities of discovery. Doodling, drawing, modeling. Sketch ideas and make things, and you're likely to encourage accidental discoveries. At most fundamental level, what we're talking about is play, about exploring borders.