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REV: MARCH 6, 2013


Phase Zero: Introducing New Services at IDEO (A)

op yo In July 2002, Douglas Dayton looked out across the space where designers, engineers, human factors experts, and other specialists worked in teams and reflected that it was not easy to evaluate the recent project carried out for mattress manufacturer Simmons. Dayton was a design engineer and head of IDEO’s Boston office. IDEO was a design and innovation firm known for the extraordinary range of products it had designed and its innovative approach to the design process.

For the Simmons project, IDEO had embarked on a service that was not intended to result in a tangible product, at least not right away.
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Dayton wondered what lessons Boston should absorb from the experience and whether and how these might influence future projects.

Company Background


IDEO had designed a remarkable range of household, commercial, and industrial products, services, and environments. Some of the most widespread tangible outcomes of its services were the computer mouse (developed for Apple), the thumbs up/thumbs down interaction for TiVo’s personal video recorder, and a disposable pre-filled insulin injector for Eli Lilly. (Exhibit 1 describes other projects.) The success of these products was in large part due to IDEO’s ability to learn about, empathize with, and design products and services to meet the needs of the end user.
A 1991 merger of industrial design companies with an engineering firm gave rise to IDEO as an

Professor Amy C. Edmondson and Research Associate Laura R. Feldman prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.
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