by Thomas Kelley
The author, general manager of the design firm IDEO, explains ten roles employees can fill to help companies create and innovate. The roles are Anthropologist (sees everyday life as a source for new ideas); Experimenter (celebrates the prototype process); Cross-Pollinator (uses a wide breadth of learning to improve their main field); Hurdler (turn constraints into opportunity); Collaborator (leads cross-functioning teams where players exchange roles); Director (puts together teams with good chemistry); Experience Architect (creates positive encounters with product by engaging senses); Set Designer (creates spaces for projects); Caregiver (makes consumers’ process more fun and personal); and Storyteller (triggers emotion by making experiences authentic). Whew!
This was an easy work read, written in a pleasant style that forgoes the usual talking-down tone of business books. I’m always wary of these business-help books that name “the” seven whatchamacallits of leadership or the fifteen boondoggles of customer service or so on. Of course, Kelley does point out that these ten “faces” are roles, not individuals, and that roles can overlap within people or groups (just as you can be a father, husband, engineer, kayaker, etc., so too one might add on Experimenter and Collaborator onto that list). But very often as I read page after page of anecdotes about this or that company surging in market share, I found myself wondering what precisely the “roles” had to do with it. Kelley argues for power naps at work to recharge, which is fine – but what’s The Director got to do with it? As with most books of this ilk, this is a lot of good advice (names matter; find out what the customer really needs, not what he says he needs; face time is better than email) packaged with a simple-sounding hook (just ten things to learn?!).