The mission: Design products and services that fly off the shelves. The firm: Ideo. The man: Tom Kelley.
1. You have to know what problem to solve.
You don't know what problem to solve. Even if you think you do, you don't. This runs counter to what you might think.
To find the problem, you must look at something with a fresh perspective -- as if you know nothing about it. He calls it vu jàdé (déjà vu, backwards).
2. You have to withhold your agenda.
When looking for a million-dollar idea, don't go into the process looking for examples that support your gut feeling or what you think you know.
3. You have to set aside what you know.
Set aside everything you know. Don't think "it's always done this way" or "it should be done that way." Make and record observations without judgment or opinion.
4. You have to ask: "What was the person thinking?"
Wherever you decide to look, observe people doing whatever it is they do.
Then, without agenda or judgment, ask yourself what that person was thinking when she was doing her thing. This is where insights will start coming.
5. You have to ask: "What was the person feeling?"
Asking what a person was feeling will give you perspective on why she did what she did. It will reveal the emotion of the situation. It will reveal frustrations.
According to Tom, when you blend the thinking and feeling part of the equation, you'll find opportunities for innovation. That's the part most people miss, but that's where million-dollar ideas come from.
Forget what you think you know to find out what you need to know
Looking at things with a fresh perspective means forgetting everything you know. That also means it's OK to look at industries you know nothing about. How's that for counterintuitive?
But what Tom Kelley, and IDEO does, works. Try it.
Observe without judgment, and who knows, you could be one of the next up-and-coming Inc. 5000 founders.