Naked Innovation started out as a graduate school thesis, and has evolved into a widely-used primer on collaborative innovation. We the authors, Zachary Jean Paradis and David McGaw, are giving away the first edition of the book, chapter by chapter, both to contribute to the larger community, and to invite input as we revise and improve the content. Yup, we’re nakedly innovating Naked Innovation. We invite you to be part of the discussion.

Why we wrote NI

Back in 2007, we were finishing up Master of Design degrees at the IIT Institute of Design, and took on the challenge of summing up everything we had learned. Writing the book Naked Innovation: Uncovering a Shared Approach for Creating Value was a great way to make sense of the experience—and share enthusiasm for the approach and methods we had internalized. We wished we had learned about innovation, design thinking and design strategy earlier, so we wrote Naked Innovation to make it easier for others to get started. We’ve witnessed the power of design-led innovation to make better products and services, to transform experiences, organizations, and communities, and to make the process of creation more effective, accessible—and fun.

What this project is about

In the years since we wrote Naked Innovation, we’ve learned more about the craft of innovation, have grown to appreciate the widespread applicability of design methods, and have learned more about how organizations and teams discover and embrace innovation processes. We’ve been thrilled to see our book be used around the world by Fortune 500 companies, leading academic institutions in design, technology, medicine and business, and government agencies in the US and overseas. And all this is without it having been formally published! We think there’s still a need for a simple, practical overview of how innovation works. Everybody seems to believe that “innovation” is important, but ironically, the proliferation of different books, movies, and other resources about innovation in recent years hasn’t made how to do it much more clear. So we’d like to do two things with this site:

  • First, we’re going to give Naked Innovation away, in its current format, chapter by chapter, completely free.
  • Second, we’re inviting the innovation community to help us make Naked Innovation better.

We believe innovation itself can be innovated: better results (and more fun along the way).

The IIT Institute of Design

Of course, the foundation of Naked Innovation is built on the approach taught by the IIT Institute of Design. The Institute of Design was founded in Chicago in 1937, and is now America’s oldest and largest graduate program of design. As such, it has trained generations of design and innovation leaders, who have founded companies, led innovation consultancies, and created many successful new products and services. The school has been associated with many of the pioneers of design thinking, and graduates of “ID” today are found around the world, helping teams collaborate to create new value.

Naked Innovation has been described as an “Institute of Design degree-in-a-box,” and that was part of our goal in writing the book. First, we are profoundly grateful to the professors and fellow students who helped us develop our innovation skills. Moreover, we believe in ID’s commitment to developing and sharing people-centered design methods, and are pleased to contribute to that ongoing discussion. We’re also glad the school has supported both the original book project, and our current redevelopment and expansion of the material. In fact, Naked Innovation is already spreading beyond the Institute of Design into the main Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) undergraduate program, where it is being used in the interdisciplinary IPRO projects that engineering and other students take on. We’d love to see Naked Innovation becoming a useful resource for everybody at IIT, and a contribution of the university to companies, organizations, and communities far afield—for everybody working to create value. 

That’s our story. We invite you to be part of the conversation.