My trip to IDEO

“IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”) is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow.” (From their website)

We were able to get a quick tour of IDEO’s San Francisco office which is on a pier under the Bay Bridge. Like Google and Zynga, the culture was very casual, laid back, and incredibly creative. There are post-its with ideas everywhere! IDEO was responsible for working with Riverdale Country School to create the Deign-Think toolkit. Dominic Randolph and his faculty up at Riverdale are doing some innovative things to teach creativity to their students.

The organization at IDEO is very flat with no one really having a “boss.” Employees are trusted to be incredibly productive, and we were told that people there take their work very seriously. When hiring, they look for “T shaped” people- those who have depth and expertise in a particular field but are able to work well across disciplines to collaborate. They employ people with no higher ed degrees as well as lots of Ph. D.’s. They take folks from dramatically different backgrounds and create project teams to consult with companies and help them think about their issues creatively. If you have never heard of IDEO, you should take time browsing the amazing work they have done with companies.

This is a workplace like no other I have seen where demonstrations on baking desserts are just as important as strategy sessions. They really want people to get to know each other and think differently. Their interview process is intensive and lengthy, and they are benefiting from extremely high demand. Even for the Silicon Valley, this work structure is incredibly loose. The founder, David Kelley, whom we saw walking around Stanford’s D-School, has a new book out about unlocking the creative potential within ourselves.

Take some time browsing the links above if you haven’t already heard of these people and places. They are all fascinating.


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