Susan Hires a Boss

Cool Company: IDEO

I ragged on Google and the MBA students who want to work there in a previous post. But there is hope because in that same list from Fortune was a first-timer worth knowing about – IDEO at No. 15.

IDEO is a design firm, but that doesn’t quite completely define them. The 500-person company is responsible for Crest's Neat Squeeze, Tivo's set top box and remote control and Bank of America's "Keep the Change" program.

What makes them cool? What doesn’t?

Understanding people
Tom Kelly’s book The Ten Faces of Innovation is a must read. MUST READ. It’s a fascinating look at the different types it takes to do what IDEO does. Everyone has a role based on their expertise, but is given opportunities to contribute based on attributes that go beyond the degree on the wall. What I saw was a place that would appreciate and take advantage of all the best things in me, most of which are impossible to detail on a resume.

Make it happen
IDEO isn’t a think tank. They don’t sit around and just dream up products and leave the rest of us to figure out how to make it happen. The dreams that come out of their heads become reality, improving the way things work in big and small ways.

Question everything
Why does toothpaste have to be in tube? Why does a hospital bed work that way? Why aren’t the turnstiles bigger? Why? How? Who?

A large part of the magic of IDEO is an ability to approach products and experiences with the most critical and open mind possible. No part of the status quo is safe from their probing, allowing them to reboot to actually solve the problem rather than slap a coat of paint or bandage on and hope it works.


posted on Jun 14, 2009 under