Case Study

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Questions

1. How would you characterize IDEO's process, organization, culture, and management?

Process

IDEO's product development process follows several phases. And each phase contains several IDEO's core skills that are Observation, Brainstorming, Prototyping and Implementation. The five phases of the product development process and applied core skills are described in the following table (Figure 1). Figure 1. Product Development Process

Phase| Process| Core Skills| Description|
Phase 0| Understand/Observe| Observation/Brainstorming| Seeks to understand the client's business and immersed itself in finding out about the feasibility of a product.| Phase I| Visualize/Realize| Brainstorming/Prototyping| Ends up choosing a product direction based on ideas, technologies, and market perceptions.| Phase II| Evaluating/Refining| Prototyping| Enhances design prototypes through testing functional prototypes.| Phase III| Implement/Detailed Engineering| Implementation| Completes product design and verified that the final product worked and could be manufactured.| Phase IV| Implement/Manufacturing Liaison| Implementation| Ensured smooth product release to manufacturing as the product moved from the shop floor to the client's factory lines.|

Prototyping and brainstorming are the most important core skills of IDEO.
The role of prototyping in phases I and II is central to IDEO's design philosophy, more than their clients can imagine, and probably more than their competitors. Frequent prototyping serve as the most important way for IDEO to communicate with clients, marketers, experts, and end users. Prototypes ensure everyone was imagining the same design during discussions about a product. All IDEO offices have shops staffed by highly skilled machinists to rapidly produce both simple and sophisticated prototypes.

If prototyping was central to IDEO’s design process, brainstorming of phase 0 and I was central to its methodology. The two processes, actually, went hand in hand, with brainstorming sessions leading to rapid prototyping or vice versa. The goal was to quickly create a whirlwind of activity and ideas, with the most promising ideas developed into prototypes in just days. The firm followed several principles of brainstorming: stay focused on the topic; encourage wild ideas; defer judgment to avoid interrupting the flow of ideas; build on the ideas of others; hold only one conversation at a time to ensure that introverts also got their say; go for quantity; and be visual, since sketching ideas would help people understand them. Figure2. IDEO's Core Skills

Organization

IDEO employs over 300 staff and maintains design centers in many sites. Although all centers operate independently, seeking business locally, they exchange a high volume of e-mail and often share talent as needed. Each center consists in small units by budding out smaller design studios whenever one appeared to grow too large.

An individual can work on one large project as a principal or on as many as three to four projects as a contributor. IDEO is a flat organization to an extreme. All work is organized in project teams, which are formed for the life of a project and then disbanded. As a result there is no permanent job assignment or job title. The lack of hierarchy avoids the problem of promoting designers and engineers into administrative position and out of creating products.

Figure3. IDEO's Organization Concept

Culture

The core value of IDEO is organization culture based on different principles: willing to accept the failure as one of innovation process, respect the members on a creativity basis and get learn from failures collecting them in box instead of throwing them into the trash box.

This culture heritage motivates IDEO members to create the more business effective prototypes and ideas faster than other competitors. This culture also had an overall effect on IDEO’s management,...
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