Home > Book reviews > Book review: Tom Kelly’s The Ten Faces of Innovation

Book review: Tom Kelly’s The Ten Faces of Innovation

I’m leaving behind Tom Kelly’s The Ten Faces of Innovation, and I wanted to capture a few thoughts about it before I say goodbye.  Kelly worked at IDEO for years as a designer/manager, where he helped lead creative design efforts.

The book discusses the limitations of the “devil’s advocate” approach to interactions, which he reports can stifle early innovation.  He puts forth ten other roles that can be helpful in design: anthropologist, experimenter, cross-pollinator, hurdler, collaborator, director, experience architect, set designer, caregiver, and storyteller.  The book defines, exemplifies, and case studies each of these with lots of bold headers, highlighted quotes, and representative pictures.

The book reminds me a bit of McGrath’s Behavior of Groups theory, in which he implores us (psychologists, but HCIers too) to be more than experimenters by considering the different stages of design and reasons why groupware exists (e.g., to drive production, to foster teamwork).  There’s a great table in the paper that lays out the stages x reasons and describes what each intersection point means.

I’m certainly guilty of falling into the devil’s advocate role too often.  But I do pretty good as a hurdler, an experimenter, and a caregiver too.  And not so good at some of the others.  I’m thinking to put the list up on my wall, so I can both remember to wear the different hats, but also remember that the students who work for me, the collaborators whom I work with, and the administrators whom I work for have their own strengths and weaknesses among the roles.

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