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IDEO Product Development case study discusses the company's process, organization, culture, and management. It looks into whether IDEO should accept the Visor, a novel hand-held computer, which was created at less than half the time IDEO usually creates its handheld computers.
Harvard Business Review (600143-PDF-ENG)
June 22, 2000
Case questions answered:
- How would you characterize IDEO's process, organization, culture, and management? What was striking to you, and why? Be specific.
- Can any of these be a source of sustainable competitive advantage? Why? (Look for choices/investments/tradeoffs that might be difficult to imitate in other firms or industries and use the Barney reading to bolster your argument).
- Decision point: should IDEO accept the Visor project as is (on a dramatically reduced schedule)? Should they try to persuade Handspring's management to change its aggressive launch schedule? Or should they simply decline the project? Explain your reasoning.
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IDEO Product Development Case Answers
IDEO Product Development
IDEO has a very original creative design process, generating innovative ideas through encouraging failure with a lot of time dedicated to extremely productive brainstorming sessions and the aggressive generation of prototypes. They have a very casual workplace culture that encourages self-expression, collaboration, and agility.
They purposely pay higher rent for their Silicon Valley offices to encourage employees to have stimulating conversations, encourage personalization of workspaces, leaving their desks when people had creative blocks, and provide loaner bicycles to facilitate movement between buildings. The company has 9 offices so as to avoid becoming too large and the bureaucracy that comes with it, therefore every time a certain design studio becomes too large it is budded out.
They do not fire people often, rather putting in a lot of effort into the recruitment process to make sure they hire the best by having candidates meet with 10 employees, or hiring straight out of their internship program. IDEO relies on intrinsic motivators, like the reward that comes with leading or working on more challenging projects that interest the employee, rather than using promotions. Great employees are compensated with more shares in their client venture capital base, which also encourages better work for their clients so their shares increase in value.
They have a “Tech Box” with many different objects lying around in it to inspire employees to find new uses for them and come up with new innovations. Every Monday at every branch they had “show-and-tells” where the latest insights and products would be shown off to inspire others and furthering the “playroom” environment.
The organizational resources that IDEO has acquired can lead to them having a sustainable competitive advantage, and is what has been giving them this competitive advantage so far. This can be seen in the number of Industrial Design Excellence Awards they have won, which is 32, with the firm with the next highest number having 20 (p. 15). Every aspect of their organizational culture encourages creativity, which is essential for…
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