Ideo: the Organization and Management Innovation in a Design Firm and the Role of Alliances and Collaboration

2254 Words Apr 30th, 2010 10 Pages
Schumpeter (1949) wrote of the individual and collective embodiment of the “entrepreneurial spirit” – the “Unternehmergeist”. One company that channels this “geist” is the Sillicon Valley,
California-based design and consultancy firm, IDEO. Founded in 1991, this self-styled innovation and design firm balances process and product innovations grounded in a human-centred design philosophy. Through this approach IDEO elided the pitfalls of the technology push versus demand-led innovation dichotomy to produce products and services that feel just as good as they work. In the latest rankings IDEO was listed at no.10 on Fast Company's Top 25 Most Innovative Companies
(2009) and no.15 on Fortune's 100 most-favored employers by
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It is used to generate multiple and varied ideas about possible solutions to the innovation challenge. A session lasting no more than sixty minutes is conducted under the following rules: defer judgment; build on others' ideas; one conversation at a time; stay on topic; encourage wild ideas; go for quantity; be visual (Kelley 2001). Rapid Prototyping involves early development of a wide range of low-fidelity prototypes from which to learn. Teams evolve and refine ideas, answering multiple detailed questions through rounds of successively higher-fidelity prototypes. This routine permeates the company's design practices in all spheres (Coughlan et al 2007) and is universally codified in two IDEO mantras
“build to learn,” and “fail forward” (Kelley 2001).
The company organizes its R&D portfolio into 19 Focus Areas supported by 13 teams as shown in Table 1. Teamwork is an imperative at IDEO. For each project a number or relevant teams would be assembled from persons within the company, or externally from persons within their 'talent ecosystem'. The teams meet regularly to exchange information on progress and to make sure each other's activities remain focused and complimentary (Hawthorne 2002). Table 2 summarizes some of the human-centred research work undertaken at IDEO. The popular Method Cards is result of this kind of research and development work at the company. The collection of 51 cards is used to evaluate and select the empathic

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