IDEO: Masters of Innovation
Lawrence King Publishing
The year was 1982. US magazine, Design, had asked one of its writers, Jeremy Myerson, to visit a fast-growing pocket of American industry known as Silicon Valley. Apparently, something was stirring in the State of California.
Cracking open a beer in the converted garage of Bill Moggridge and Mike Nuttall, two British industrial designers, Myerson and his companions talked about the design of a revolutionary portable computer (built to sit on someone’s lap!) and the difficulties Moggridge was having designing a folding screen. Nuttall was interested to hear about the progress of close friend (and future partner), David Kelley, and his work developing an exciting new computer accessory called a “mouse”.
Two decades later, IDEO, the brainchild of Moggridge, Nuttal and Kelley, has cemented its place as a design company like no other – where chaos is praised and employees who don’t always listen to the boss are rewarded. This coffee table book, written by Myerson and based on his twenty-year fascination with the company, follows the journey of the “innovation factory” as it tries and succeeds in re-shaping the world where we live and work.
Roger La Salle
In the best selling parable, Who Moved My Cheese (Random House, 1998), Spencer Johnson’s characters Hem and Haw grow lean because they fail to innovate. It is a simple story with a simple moral: stay vigilant to change or be left behind. But, as with many self-help books, the message is much easier said than done.
Think New, by Roger La Salle (RUDDERS RLS, 2002), attempts to fill the gap where others fear to tread, by providing a practical, step-by-step guide designed to encourage the creation of new products and ideas. In La Salle’s own words, it is not a “call to arms”, but a “roadmap – a structured approach to innovation.”
The La Salle method was developed to assist businesses to move beyond passive, head-nodding acceptance of innovation as “good theory” and provoke real business product development.
In its most scientific form, the Roger La Salle method is a matrix of intersections, such as seeds and catalysts, each designed to provoke a different way of looking at a product, service or process.
For example, catalysts include ‘Future Gazing’ (as opposed to navel gazing), ‘Re-Questioning’ and the ‘If You’re Finding It Hard, You’re Doing It Wrong (IYFITYDIW)’ catalyst. Each simply provides a method of problem identification and solving.
Through his workshops, La Salle boasts that participants have gained the ability to produce more than 300 innovations per hour.
Whilst this claim is likely to provoke the skeptic in all of us, it doesn’t seem so far fetched once the steps of the program unfold. The approach is refreshingly straightforward and can easily be brought back to personal experiences.
The most obvious fault of Think New is offered as more of a backward praise than a criticism. While reading it is hard not to become overwhelmed or distracted by the ideas provoked. It is even harder to decide which of the arising ideas, if any, can be implemented most efficiently or which will generate the greatest return for cost.
Perhaps La Salle should develop another book titled, “From pipedreams to veins of gold” or “Sorting the innovation wheat from the chaff,” to pull the easily excitable innovator back to reality.
WORDS OF WISDOM
“Ingredients of a successful growing organization should include a high degree of system and stability and a small but essential element of turbulence. Innovation is the source of this turbulence.” Roger La Salle.