Essay on Ideo

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HBS Case IDEO Product Development


IDEO, arguably the most successful design firm in the world, has been in the creativity and innovation business for over 20 years. IDEO started with a merger of three design companies, which brought together the capabilities to offer the design, development, and manufacturing of products for client companies. IDEO practices a non-formal five-phase process for development of a project, which uncovers the successes and failures of a design. These phases include frequent brainstorming, rapid and repeated prototyping, and concurrent engineering, which combines art with engineering to produce a functional and visually pleasing product. IDEO considers each phase of their process
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IDEO, an award-winning design and development firm, has generated a breakthrough way to be the best in the industry. Its pioneering characteristics, from employees freely expressing ideas and willingness to bend the rules, to employees designing their own work environments, has allowed IDEO to outdo other leading companies. IDEO has cultivated a leading process that has given its organization a dominating factor when it comes to innovation. Within the firm’s culture and management, IDEO has tapped into a wellspring of creativity, which in turn has become this firm’s way of life.


According to the Art of Innovation (Kelley & Littman, 2001) there is a method to IDEO’s madness. The methodology has five basic steps:

1. Understand the market. IDEO thoroughly examines the current perceptions, clients, technology and constraints for each product or service to gain insight into what customers want and need. 2. 3. Observe real people in real-life situations. IDEO does not place much value in using focus groups or surveys, as customers are inclined to respond optimistically when asked. IDEO developers gain inspiration from seeing and hearing with their own eyes and ears. They apply a concept of “being left-handed” which refers to observing the diverse needs of the customer base. As part of the observation, IDEO likes to find “rule breakers”, referring to customers who “misuse” a product to

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