Jack Of All Trades
IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”) is one of those multifaceted agencies that are difficult to describe. An award-winning global design firm serving organizations in the public and private sectors, IDEO takes a human-centered, design-based approach to innovation to help foster effective strategies for growth. The firm’s range of expertise crosses the usual lines of distinction to create a team that can optimize almost any aspect of global business and commerce.
Is IDEO a design agency? Is it a consulting firm? Is it an advertising agency? Do they create toys, retail shop layouts, and medical products?
The answer to all those questions is yes! IDEO’s central focus is design, and all fields of expertise within the company are governed by design thinking.
What is Design Thinking?
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
– Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO
IDEO seeks to find the intersection of business viability, human desirability, and technical feasibility. The company believes that is the “sweet spot” for innovation that is effective, creative, and realistic.
The teams at IDEO often explore and innovate in unconventional ways. The company employs experts in a wide variety of fields, working in ten cities across the globe. Divisions such as Digital Experiences, Toy Lab, and The Digital Shop encourage team members to explore, play, and think outside the box for creative solutions. The atmosphere of discovery and passion fuels limitless creativity, and allows the firm to offer a world-class design thinking experience for an extensive list of impressive clients.
One of IDEO’s strengths is its lack of rigid organization. IDEO seeks out T-shaped people, who have “one deep area of expertise, and a broad reach of other skills and experiences to draw on, whether from past employment experience or personal endeavors”. Rather than limiting employees to one title or position, IDEO maintains a team with strengths in a wide variety of disciplines.
For each new client project, different strengths and experiences are drawn upon as needed. The collaborative attitude fostered within company culture allows team members to feel valued as experts in not only their “official” field, but as contributors to other areas in which they have knowledge or experience.
Is Design Thinking Really That Effective?
Take a look at the Highlights and Accolades IDEO has accumulated:
- Ranked as one of the most innovative companies in the world by business leaders in a global survey by Boston Consulting Group
- Ranked #10 on Fast Company’s list of the Top 25 Most Innovative Companies
- Winner of 38 Red Dot awards, 28 iF Hannover awards, and more IDEA awards than any other design firm
- Ranked #16 on Fortune’s list of 100 most-favored employers by MBA students
- Awarded the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s National Design Award for Product Design
With a client list ranging from major hospitals to insurance companies, popular television shows to major electronics manufacturers, and airlines to non-profit foundations, IDEO is certainly onto something.
How can you incorporate design thinking into your projects?