Thoughts on "The Ten Faces of Innovation"

One of the few things I enjoy about long plane rides is that it is probably the only time left that I can get caught up on my reading, especially books.  I just finished Tom Kelley’s (no relation) book “The Ten Faces of Innovation” on the flight to Phoenix today.

Overall it was an easy read and did well in practicing the last persona of the book (storytelling) by interspersing the points about the necessary personality traits to help the innovation process with good stories about how they work in the real world.  Tom is the brother of David Kelley, the founder of IDEO, so there are many stories from IDEO’s experience in helping companies be more innovative. 

One of the most interesting concepts he talks about is the idea of a “T-shaped” individual.  And no, this is not referring to their physical appearance (although being T-shaped would be decidedly better than being pare-shaped).  A T-shaped person has broad exposure to many different areas (the cross bar of the T) and goes deep in one particular area (the down stroke of the T).  Tom’s view is that T-shaped people are key to company success.  Wen I think of the people that I have worked with, I would tend to agree that those that had a mix of broad exposure and deep understanding were the most interesting.  The breadth gives you perspective and the depth allows you to actually contribute.

Another interesting side note came near the conclusion of the book when talking about the story telling persona: the difference between truth and authenticity.  Tom says that many corporate messaging campaigns focus on staying inside the bounds of truth, when they should be focusing on authenticity.  I think that’s doubly true for blogging.  The blogs that keep me coming back are those that I sense are authentic and authenticity is hard to fake, especially over time.

In the posts I do hear, I strive to always be authentic.  This causes one serious issue: there are some things I just don’t blog about because I can’t tell the whole truth.  Most specifically, there are projects I am involved in, partnerships I am working and new products I know about that I would love to talk about, but since I can’t disclose fully, I choose not to mention at all.  Does this make my blog less authentic, or am I doing the right thing?






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