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IDEO, Case Study Example

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Case Study

Executive Summary

IDEO prides itself on having an organizational culture that encourages out-of-the-box thinking and even celebrates failures. The company maintains the organizational culture of a small company because it wants to foster an environment of creativity and avoid a bureaucratic culture. This is why the company is never afraid to tackle any challenge because its employees are encouraged to think innovatively. One of the issues during Palm V project was of rechargeable battery but the project team solved the issue by working closely with battery manufacturers to arrive at their desired solution. IDEO’s latest project is of a product titled visor, commissioned by a newly formed company, Handspring. Handspring has been founded by former 3Com employees who want to market a more affordable as well as a practical alternative to Palm handheld device. IDEO has always thrived on being flexible and should go ahead with Hawking’s recommendation because this project is similar to Palm and Palm V. Many people working on visor also worked on Palm project, thus, Boyle and his team could afford to skip some steps in order to speed up the project.

Case Study

IDEO won more than design awards than any other firm in 1990’s because the company’s culture allows complete freedom to its employees in brainstorming ideas. The company even encourages failures so that the employees are not afraid to think outside-the-box. The employees are encouraged to express even absurd ideas, thus, they do not fear being judged or ridiculed. IDEO’s three ‘R’s have some similarity to software development processes such as Agile development because at IDEO, projects do not take any pre-determined course but instead the ideas are generated in a random fashion and lead to product evolution over time. In addition, teams are flexible in their structure and can rapidly respond to clients’ needs.

IDEO’s culture cannot be implemented at a larger company because large company sizes lead to bureaucratic culture and power struggles. In addition, as the company’s size grows, the communication gap between the management and the subordinates also grow. Moreover, production processes have to be standardized at large organizations in order to reduce complexity which affects employees’ creativity. IDEO is more similar to a start-up in its organizational structure. The employees do not have any formal ranks, are encouraged to pursue their creative interests, and have easy access to the management. In addition, IDEO doesn’t have formal departments but instead organization takes place around the projects assigned by the clients.

IDEO’s emphasis on understanding and observing is beneficial to new ventures because new ventures often have limited resources and understanding and observing is not only a cheaper alternative to marketing research but also more effective. Understanding and observing may also allow the new ventures to better understand their targeted markets because they could put themselves in a user’s shoes. Phase I of Palm V included three to four IDEO designers and engineers out of whom two were female designers named Amy Han and Trae Niest. Amy Han and Trae Niest brought female perspectives to the project and the female market for handheld was largely unexplored. Thus, Palm V had a potential to achieve significantly higher market penetration rates.

One issue in the Palm V project was that of rechargeable batteries. The first choice was lithium ion batteries but there were two problems with it. First, the batteries take long time to fully recharge and second, frequent recharging shortens battery lives. Palm V project team solved the problem by working closely with battery manufacturers to manufacture a rechargeable battery that could be charged during brief periods of time without shortening the battery life. Another challenge was to put the unit together without a single screw. The problem became more complex when the employees with experience in industrial glue left the company. The problem was solved through trial and error by experimenting with different adhesives and bonding parameters before arriving at a satisfactory solution.

The opinion that people don’t want a combination device has proven to be wrong. In fact, people prefer the convenience offered by combination device which can perform several functions because it not only allow people to buy fewer devices but also carry fewer devices with them. We now have cell phones that perform numerous functions such as internet browsing, playing music, SMS, taking pictures and videos, and playing video games. Similarly, many other devices have multiple functions as well. There are wrist watches in the market with GPS capabilities that also calculate heart beat rates, calories burned, and distance covered.

The development team should proceed with an aggressive schedule and skip Phase O and 1. IDEO prides itself on being flexible and Handspring doesn’t want the most competitive product but instead one which can perform basic functions and is affordable by most. In addition, many members on the visor project already have worked on Palm project so they have the ideas and experience from their previous work and could use some of those in place of Phase 0 or 1.

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