The vibe at IDEO is playful and safe to express ideas. There is a process that is valued and used by each team member and directed by people that are good with groups, not by people who have a high rank in the company. In fact there doesn’t seem to be a ranking system at all, according to Founder of IDEO, Dave Kelly.
The Shopping Cart Project was a great way to see how one company handles innovation. The very first step is to go out into the environment and learn from people that use the product that’s going to be redesigned. It’s an Activity-Focussed Design Style in which team members observe the users in the environment rather than using a Genius Design Style, perhaps relying on “the boss” to recall his experience using a shopping cart while buying groceries for dinner. Using Genius Design Style here is probably not the best route because the boss is the last person that might have any decent insight on how to build the most efficient shopping cart.
IDEO uses Unintended and Self Design Styles during the brainstorming phase of the design process. At this point, designers are encouraged to throw out any idea that comes to mind. Get it on paper, tape it up on the board, and whoever knocks an idea gets “The bell.” Designers are motivated and encouraged to dump ideas on the table and operate in an environment that thrives on organized chaos. Later in the process comes editing and refining, but the good ideas wouldn’t ever come to the surface if this kind of brainstorming did not exist.
User Centered Design is a term that has been thrown around repeatedly throughout this semester, and is the Design Style IDEO honors most. In talking about the way IDEO goes about inventing and innovating, Kelly stresses their process saying, you can give us a mouse, a shopping cart, or a spaceship…anything to redesign or think up and it wouldn’t matter because we’re experts at the process of making things.
All the design styles Jared Spool mentions in his article 5 Design Styles. What’s Yours? are used to some degree throughout IDEO’s process for redesigning a shopping cart, but without ego, they value the user’s perspective most. After developing the final prototype, they wanted to take it into the store to see how the users interacted with it. While they appreciated how well shoppers enjoyed using the new cart, they were open to hearing what they could have done better and how it could be designed to fit their needs even more.
As a maker, it’s easy to get caught up in how great your stuff is, especially when it’s all beautiful and “finished,” but true User-Centered Design knows the importance of iterations and user feedback. While our own ingenuity, experiences, and observations are key styles in any design process, “Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius” (Nightline Host) i.e. User-Centered Design Thinking and a collaborative creative process has the ability to make a design as close to perfect as can be.