Tom Kelly is the general manager of IDEO.
During Tom Kelly’s presentation he emphasized the fact that designers are “making new connections”. In the past, designers were not connectors in the world, design was only added in the end when all the “real work was done”, when the truth is that design pays a big role in the success of the real work.
Design, twenty years ago was only seen in ‘design magazines’, it later became central in business where “design has a place in the grown up table”. Design has become part of the process.
“Design is a value generator” Tom Peter.
Tom Kelly’s presentation consisted of many well know companies and their successes. The use of companies that are known by most of the audience made me as an individual more engaged in the presentation. He also related the business and design world to fairy tales we know as children.
Many of us are innovators.
With innovation there is good news where innovation creates complexity and creativity, leaders are acknowledging that this is what they need. Who are people going to look to now? At innovators, therefore designers.
Whereas for the bad news, “the red queen effect” from Alice in wonderland, where the story takes place on a chess board with Alice and the Queen. The red queen is always in a bad mood therefore Alice and the red queen are running and they do not make any progress. While their feet are moving there is no progress, the bad news is that it is not enough to be creators, you have to beat competition.
As children, we only saw the story as a narrative, we didn’t really analyze the characters or the tasks. By comparing real life to Alice and the red queen, as the audience we actually understand the claim behind this example.
In the past, we weren’t competing with everyone else.
Another example Tom Kelly mentioned derives from his home town, where Tom began by describing that in the 1960s in Akron Ohio, was known as the “rubber capital of the world” World= USA. They let designers innovate every few months, outside of Akron there was more competition because Akron was slow, they were moving at their own pace not aware of other competitors. Akron were not happy with this move, because in France they were competing, Akron felt that this threatened their business model. But France created “radio tires” which is more advanced than what Akron has, just regular rubber tires. Therefore America decided not to buy these tires from France and eighteen years later, their sales went down to 0%.
The third example includes consumer electronics with Sony and Samsung. To begin with, Sony’s sales were high and Samsung’s were low. Samsung decided that they will be competitors with innovation strategies, they started experimenting, as a result their sales rise and in 2005 the value of Samsung exceeded Sony by 40 billion. Years later Sony began rising. Sony was an innovator but because they were working in a slow pace, they allowed their hungry competitors and people began saying “I want to be the next Samsung” which is the red queen effect.
Moving to the environment, dinosaurs were ruling the world for a long time, there was no competition. But because the environment outside changed faster than they can adapt to it which is why they disappeared. This leads to the question, Are we as a community changing as fast as the environment? We see the red queen effect here as well.
- people (desirable)
- business (viable)
- technical (feasible)
Designers connecting with the World:
1- the anthropologist
CEO- is the first to see everything- when Tom Kelly first joined IDEO, it was very challenging work, there was clear success or failure. In 1991, there anthropologists came along, Tom Kelly didn’t get it, he told his brother David, “Human factor work is kind of California” which is a questionable value.
Anthropologists see new problems, these could be new opportunities, you set aside what you know and look at it with fresh eyes. “ Vuja de” keep asking yourself “why do we…?” when you do this, you can see new opportunities.
An experience Tom Kelly had was something we all went through, but because we don’t listen we don’t actually notice, when actually it is a very big issue that is concerned with safety. On the airlines, Tom was actually listening to the safety instructions where the mask comes down, with a clear plastic bag attached they mention, “although the bag may not inflate, oxygen is flowing in the mask.” Created a product with the worst interface.
The point with this experience to Tom is that: how could have I not noticed, a product you use, you would know if it works or not.
Another experience is when he was at the train station in Charles de Gaulle airport where the ticket entrance people would actually have their luggage with them and try to put the ticket in, no one actually noticed but Tom kept observing how people pass by and come up with tactics to pass, no one really notices because they stopped seeing things in the environment.
In Tokyo train station with 3 million people passing daily, Tom was standing with IDEO anthropologists where they notice an individual standing with her shoes not matching, they begin coming up with theories,
1- maybe she has pairs almost like them at home
2- girlfriend with the same shoe size
3- maybe there is an opportunity
Oral B asked IDEO to create a new toothbrush for kids- they want it to be distinctive. Oral B expected IDEO to start creating new designs from Day1. But IDEO wanted to do anthropology, on day 1 they discovered that kids need a big toothbrush because they hold it in their fist, to begin with they thought that because kids have tiny hand they would need slim toothbrushes. It became the best selling toothbrush for 18 months until all the other competitors began doing the same.
2- cross pollinator
Where you take in new knowledge and share it continuously- you want to be a cross pollinator.
Tokyo went to the USA took the idea of great simplicity and created “Muji” which now has 300 stores worldwide. They were inspired by an idea across the ocean, they were inspired and did not copy. Get ideas outside your country than inside.
Emergency hospital and Race car: doctor says there is one thing in common where seconds matter, with the car racing, everything is at your fingertips, therefore they adapted this idea to become more efficient and kept everything close and ready.
Cross pollinating generations: “tap into young ideas with a ‘reverse mentor’” time- learn a lot from them.
3- story teller
IDEO thought data should speak for itself but in fact it doesn’t. You have to wrap the message in the story.
Chip and Dan Heath- urban myths
- in the form of a story
Behavioral economics and choice architecture:
Example: India- get people to drink clean water.
Because in India they have strong beliefs in family, if you just tell them not to drink from the well they might reply, “you’re not saying my mom is wrong are you?”
By story telling, you are reframing the question by showing examples of the facts and the proposed outcome, “which water would you want your children to drink?”
Therefore 7 times the number of families switch to safer water.
In conclusion, the main three outlines of Tom Kelly’s presentation are:
1- anthropologist- to be able to learn and identify in a new way
2- cross pollinator: look for ideas outside the normal world
3- story telling: adopt power of story telling
I enjoyed Tom Kelly’s presentation because he was able to engage the audience using sense of humor. I also sense his confidence when speaking, it becomes very convincing as he brings up topics which are interesting and influences me as a young designer to adapt certain tactics to improve on the success of the final outcome.