The Ten Faces of Innovation – the roles in a differentiated innovation culture

There is hardly anyone in the innovation industry who doesn’t know his name: Tom Kelley. In his book “The Ten Faces of Innovation”* the co-founder of the design and innovation company IDEO provides deep insights into the various phases of innovation and change in companies.

Kelley’s overarching thesis is that in order to develop something groundbreaking, you have to take several standpoints.

The author of the bestseller “The Art of Innovation “* and father of Design Thinking reveals the strategies with which IDEO promotes innovative thinking among its customers and convinces opponents of change.

Especially when it comes to disruption and innovation, rejection is nothing unusual. But these “devil’s advocates”, as Kelley calls them, can nip ideas and innovations in the bud by frequently expressing reservations.


“Innovation is ultimately a team sport. Get all the roles performing at the top of their game and you’ll generate a positive force for innovation.” – Excerpt from the book “The Ten Faces of Innovation “*


Ten Faces of Innovation – avoiding the devil’s advocate

Throughout his time at IDEO, Tom Kelley has identified the different roles that employees can play in a company to foster innovation and progress. In his book “The Ten Faces of Innovation” he shares some of the observed strategies to foster creativity and innovation.


Tom Kelley divides the Ten Faces of Innovation into three categories:
1. the learning personas
2. the organizing personas
3. The Building Personas


These categories include, for example, the anthropologist, the person who goes into the field to see how the customer uses a company’s products and reacts to them. From these insights, the skilled observer can draw conclusions for new ideas. Another role in companies with a good innovation culture is the cross-pollinator, which mixes and matches ideas, people and technologies to create innovations that can drive the growth of a company. In addition to these two roles, there are many other Peronas that provide valuable insights into the potential driving forces of a company.

The Ten Faces of Innovation is almost a guide to nurturing and maintaining a culture of innovation in companies of all sizes. With stories from Samsung Kraft and Procter & Gamble, the theory is vividly presented and thought-provoking.

In my work as an innovation profiler and future strategist, but also as a business enabler for start-ups, I have repeatedly observed how important it is to have a well-developed innovation culture and to take on various roles in the team in order to drive change forward. “The Ten Faces of Innovation” gives everyone who wants to prepare for the future the tools to prepare their company for the world of tomorrow.



You can buy the book here*



* If you buy something via a partner link, “Medialist – Innovation-Profiling” receives a commission from Amazon for the recommendation. The purchase price does not change for this reason.



Post picture: DesignKami

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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