Ideo Hbs Case Study

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYSince its existence, IDEO has been successful with product development through its eFective design process. In our analysis, we uncovered what encompasses the foundation of IDEO. These factors include IDEO’s process, organization, culture, and management style. We discovered that IDEO’s process valued collaboration, which means everyone generated ideas. During idea generation, the weaker ideas were eliminated, and the stronger ideas moved towards the prototype stage. Additionally, IDEO operated on the principle “fail often to succeed sooner,” which encouraged employee to embrace failure and use it as a learning opportunity. The organization was identi±ed as ²at, meaning all work was organized into project teams that were formed for the life of the project. The culture of the company can be described as an egalitarian culture, where all ideas were seen as equal and of the same level of importance. Lastly, IDEO’s management style is one that encourages freedom, brainstorming, and rewards among employees. Overall, these factors were a major contribution to the success of the company. Despite IDEO’s accomplishments, the company is faced with a dilemma. Handspring, a company IDEO has worked with in the past, would like IDEO to partner with them on a project called the Visor project. Although a great opportunity, a major challenge is the short timeline Handspring’s management has proposed for the project completion. Therefore, IDEO has been given three options: accept the project as is and work with the reduced 2

Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2000 (Revised October 2017)


Stefan Thomke and Ashok Nimgade

Describes IDEO, the world's leading product design firm, and its innovation culture and process. Emphasis is placed on the important role of prototyping and experimentation in general, and in the design of the very successful Palm V handheld computer in particular. A studio leader is asked by a business start-up (Handspring) to develop a novel hand-held computer (Visor) in less than half the time it took to develop the Palm V, requiring several shortcuts to IDEO's legendary innovation process. Focuses on: 1) prototyping and experimentation practices at a leading product developer; 2) the role of playfulness, discipline, and structure in innovation processes; and 3) the managerial challenges of creating and managing an unusually creative and innovative company culture. Includes color exhibits.

Keywords: Business Startups; Innovation Strategy; Business or Company Management; Time Management; Product Design; Product Development; Business Processes; Organizational Culture; Practice; Problems and Challenges; Creativity; Hardware;


Thomke, Stefan, and Ashok Nimgade. "IDEO." Harvard Business School Case 600-143, June 2000. (Revised October 2017.)  View Details

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