Final Paper Take II: IDEO

I definitely love Bucknell as much as the next person (I’d probably even argue more), but looking into how Bucknell operates as an organization doesn’t exactly exite me.  So, on advice from our wonderful professor I am going to write my paper about something that really intrigues and exites me – innovation.  Within the depths of Silicon Valley exists a firm that has emerged and remained as one of the most innovative and creative companies in the world and its name is IDEO.  IDEO is a design firm that has invented thousands of products over the last 15 years: everything from the squishy handles on toothbrushes to technologically complex medical devices.  Yet, what really makes IDEO stand out above the rest is not what they invent or the ideas they come up with, it’s HOW they do it and the processes that they use.

Even their logo is innovative!

The founders of IDEO, Tom and David Kelly, have created a culture that lives and breathes innovation.  They have an (almost) flat organizational structure, fun and playful environment, and employees from a plethera of different disciplines (engineers to sociologists) that all work on projects together.  Their employees are all extremely happy and many of them don’t even think about their daily tasks as work; it’s all just playing around!  Another thing about IDEO that makes them really unique is that everything they do, from decorating their building to performing brainstorming sessions, is done in a calculated manner that is geared towards maximizing creative thought.  They have successfully and purposefully created a wacky culture that has driven them to unbelieveable success.  What may look like choas to an outsider, is in fact an extremely organized and well thought out organization and set of processes.

My idea for this paper isn’t to simply explain how IDEO works (although I will briefly explain the structure and processes), I want to really gain an understand of why they do what they do and why it works so well.  IDEO has been deeply analyzed and vastly written about, so this will be a research paper focused on understanding how and why this organizational culture and structure has worked so well.  While there are other firms out there that have mimicked IDEO, I figured that I might as well focus on the true innovators that continue to lead the pack.

3 Responses

  1. I have always wondered where those squishy handles have come from! I think this sounds like a great topic for your paper and especially how they have been such great innovators in the field. I would be interested to see what you find out about what they do and why it works so well.

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