The Ten Faces of Innovation


A very readable and clear description of ten roles that team members play in an innovative organization. The author is Tom Kelley, one of the managers of the design/innovation company IDEO. He shares a lot of very specific examples of these ten roles in action.Since this is one I want to remember, I'm going going to include a lot of details here in the review:The 10 faces are categorized as follows:

Learning Personas


1. The Anthropologist - This role goes into the field (or hospital or store) and
A very readable and clear description of ten roles that team members play in an innovative organization. The author is Tom Kelley, one of the managers of the design/innovation company IDEO. He shares a lot of very specific examples of these ten roles in action.Since this is one I want to remember, I'm going going to include a lot of details here in the review:The 10 faces are categorized as follows:

Learning Personas


1. The Anthropologist - This role goes into the field (or hospital or store) and observes customers or users in their own environment. Interesting story there about visiting a mom cooking a healthy meal at home, only to discover lots of fast food wrappers in the trash.More tidbits: * Vuja De - the ability to see something again for the first time. Also called "beginner's mind" in this section.* This role succeeds by really enjoying people, and likes being surprised.* Don't ask kids what is trendy or popular. Instead ask them what they would buy with ten dollars or a hundred. They have a MacGyver quality of piecing together prototypes out of ordinary materials quickly.

2. The Experimenter

This role makes prototypes and experiments with ideas and solutions. Takes calculated risks and contributes to continuous learning.

3. The Cross-Pollinator

Finds ways to combine seemingly unrelated ideas or technologies to make something new. Loves to learn and share with team members. Tidbits from this section:* To encourage cross-pollination, have a broad mix of team styles and backgrounds and bring in outside speakers.

* Many of these are "T shaped individuals" with broad experience in a lot of areas and deep experience in at least one. (I recently read the book The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide and the author recommended that Software Developers should become T Shaped.)

* Traveling to another culture is a good way to find ideas that can be transplanted to your business.

The Organizing Personas


4. The HurdlerThis persona overcomes challenges and obstacles, often ones placed by their own organization. Overcome constraints of budget, rules, or red tape. Turns lemons into lemonade. Isn't phased by negativity and criticism.

5. The Collaborator

This persona works really well with teammates, clients, and partners to achieve innovation. Often they can even turn opponents of their ideas into supporters.

6. The Director

The director in this example is a movie director. These basically are leaders who can bring out the best in others to help them innovate. And they can keep a project on course, removing obstacles along the way. (Like a movie director has to keep the filming going no matter what disasters befall a production.) Directors have a lot of tools in their toolbox to fuel innovation. A big section here on brainstorming, and also the importance of a name for a team or project. Directors also have a eye for talent, and building the right mix for a team.

The Building Personas


7. The Experience ArchitectThis one is hard to summarize, but is kind of the designer role. But not just designing the appearance of a place, designing an adventure or encounter. One example is Cold Stone Creamery: making ice cream an experience. They also do customer journey mapping.

8. The Set Designer

This is the traditional designer or decorator role. It emphasizes the power of the right setting for a workplace or retail store. One interesting example is creating an Innovation Lab at a company as a place for people to get together and be creative.

9. The Caregiver

This one uses the example of how a really good doctor or nurse makes a health care experience bearable. That same caregiver heart or mindset can be used in retail settings, such as a race car driving school.Interesting tidbit:* California Pizza Kitchen uses a "safety net" approach to encourage customers to try unique pizzas. They encourage customers to try something new, and if they don't like it they will replace it with the customer's usual favorite. * One tip is to "curate the collection". Instead of overwhelming a customer with choices, have a curated list of recommendations for them that they can choose from safely.* The doorbell effect is the negative feeling when a customer doesn't get feedback for some action, and is left in an awkward waiting stage. (Did the doorbell ring? Should I ring again or wait?) Often a customer/user doesn't mind waiting if they get feedback such as a count-down or estimated wait time.

10. The Storyteller

This role makes an emotional connection with a customer or employee by telling the story of a service or company. This is a role that requires practice for some people, but has a large payoff. This often means finding a new medium to tell the story, like a sample magazine, video, or even fortune cookie.Tidbit:* Company tours give a great chance to tell a story, but they should be authentic and ad-hoc, or they get stale really quickly.As you can see, these are very clearly a description of work that people do to drive innovation forward. One slight critique I have for the book is that the introduction suggests something very different: that they are rhetorical hats that team members can wear in planning meetings or brainstorming sessions as an antidote to the Devil's Advocate role, which people masquerade in to shoot down new ideas without making any commitment to an alternate position.

That would be a really interesting discussion in its own right (maybe a different book?) but not truly what these 10 Faces are.

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