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Creativity in Design and UX (Book Review)

Book CoverA review of
Creative Confidence
by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Crown Business, 2013

In their new book, Tom Kelley, the author of The Art of Innovation and a partner at IDEO, and David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (also known as the “”) convey a central message about creativity and design that has a lot to do with User Experience. This is the “big UX” that is now sometimes called Customer Experience, and it encompasses far more than computer systems and software, far more than the web, and far more than any single interaction between a human and the world.

This book builds on David Kelley’s TED Talk from March 2011. He spoke about his earliest observations of the end of creativity, starting in third grade, and then went on to describe a process that has helped numerous individuals spread creative potential into situations and businesses throughout the world. It’s a discussion of the processes and training he’s made famous at IDEO and Stanford, but it is also more than an infomercial—it’s an outline for improvement. As UX practitioners, we can easily incorporate many of these techniques into our work and user-centered design activities.

Sections in the book are filled with excellent case studies. We learn how a developer of medical equipment took into account the fears and expectations of his young end-users, modifying a scary MRI diagnostic system into a fun trip into space or on a pirate ship, with rewards for a successful voyage (see We learn how Stanford students from a variety of backgrounds and areas of study set up companies around their insights in a course.

Tom and David Kelley describe results as varied as an innovative app for news reading, now available through LinkedIn (see, and the Embrace Infant Warmer that is used to save premature babies around the world (see There are other inspirational stories, more than can be listed here.

The book repeats a few messages from earlier IDEO books, especially some still-critical ideas on how to set up teams to succeed in innovation, and how to set up spaces to enable successful collaboration. But after reading all of them, I think this book has the best description of the joy that can be experienced by our clients, colleagues, and ourselves, and the joy our users can also experience, if we cultivate confidence in our own and our teams’ creativity.

Simply making the same old process look a little better or work a little better is no longer enough. Finding a way to solve our users’ problems creatively can truly help make the world better and improve our own working lives as well. In addition, this book brings in more evidence for observational and test-based improvement. By conducting research in distant corners of the world (like Nepal and India), the team contemplating how to save premature babies learned critical facts about the families and their lives, facts that redefined the problem. For example, in a family with multiple children in a village far from the hospital, the mother and new baby must be home soon, far away from the high-tech incubator.

The book has single-word chapter titles followed with a phrase to help orient the reader both to the gist of the topic, and for later reference:

  • FLIP from design Thinking to Creative Confidence
  • DARE from Fear to Courage
  • SPARK from Blank Page to Insight
  • LEAP from Planning to Action
  • SEEK from Duty to Passion
  • TEAM Creatively Confident Groups
  • MOVE Creative Confidence to Go
  • NEXT Embrace Creative Confidence

As a senior UX practitioner, I found that David Kelley’s energy, together with Tom Kelley’s flair for storytelling, have energized me. This book inspired me to spread the word about ways to bring more creativity into design, and I am excited that the rest of us have a chance to conduct this kind of outreach in our work.


Disclosure: The reviewer’s daughter has been employed at IDEO for almost 10 years, affording her a unique insider’s view of the company.创新者 David Kelley 和 Tom Kelley 探讨了如何帮助克服“害怕失败”的心理。很多孩子由于害羞而不敢发挥创造力,也因为害怕失败而犹豫不前。这本书介绍了一种方法,旨在帮助客户和团队成员克服这种害怕心理,并通过革新性方式成功解决问题。两位 Kelley 先生是设计公司 IDEO 的负责人,其中 David Kelley 是斯坦福大学设计学院的创办人。

文章全文为英文版혁신가 David Kelley 와 Tom Kelley 가 “실패의 두려움”을 어떻게 극복하는지에 대해 논의합니다. 많은 어린이들은 부끄러움에 창의성을 내던지고 그 후 실패의 두려움에 주저합니다. 이 책은 고객과 팀원이 그러한 두려움을 극복하고 혁신적 문제 해결에 성공하는 데 도움을 주기 위한 기법을 소개하고 있습니다. Kelly 형제는 디자인 회사인 IDEO의 대표로서 David Kelley의 경우 스탠퍼드 대학의 디자인 연구소 설립자입니다.

전체 기사는 영어로만 제공됩니다.Os inovadores David Kelley e Tom Kelley discutem como ajudar a superar o “medo do fracasso”. Muitas crianças abandonam a criatividade por timidez e hesitam mais tarde por medo de fracasso. Este livro descreve um método para ajudar clientes e membros de equipe a superar esse medo e a obter êxito na resolução de problemas de uma forma inovadora. Os Kelleys são diretores da empresa de design IDEO, e David Kelley é o fundador do Instituto de Design da Universidade de Stanford.

O artigo completo está disponível somente em inglês.イノベーターであるDavid KelleyとTom Kelleyが「失敗への恐れ」に打ち勝つ方法について説明する。多くの子どもは、失敗を経験すると、恥ずかしさから創造性を放棄してしまう。本書は、顧客とチームメンバーがそのような恐れに打ち勝ち、イノベーティブな方法で問題解決を達成する方法を説明している。両著者は、デザイン会社IDEOの主導者で、David Kelleyはスタンフォード大学のインスティチュート・オブ・デザイン(デザイン学部)の創設者でもある。

原文は英語だけになりますLos innovadores David Kelley y Tom Kelley explican cómo ayudar a superar el “miedo al fracaso”. Muchos niños dejan de lado la creatividad por vergüenza y luego vacilan por miedo al fracaso. En este libro los autores definen un método para ayudar a los clientes e integrantes de equipos a superar ese miedo y aprender a resolver problemas de manera innovadora. Los Kelleys son directivos de la firma de diseño IDEO, y David Kelley es fundador del Instituto de Diseño de la Universidad de Stanford.

La versión completa de este artículo está sólo disponible en inglés