IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”) is an international design and consulting firm originally founded in Palo Alto, California, in 1991. The company has locations in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Chicago, London, Munich, New York City, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Shanghai and Tokyo. The company uses the design thinking methodology to design products, services, environments, and digital experiences. Additionally, the company has become increasingly involved in management consulting and organizational design.
The firm employs over 600 people in a number of disciplines including: Behavioral Science, Branding, Business Design, Communication Design, Design Research, Digital Design, Education, Electrical Engineering, Environments Design, Food Science, Healthcare Services, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Mechanical Engineering, Organizational Design, and Software Engineering.
IDEO has worked on projects in the consumer food and beverage, retail, computer, medical, educational, furniture, toy, office, and automotive industries. Some examples include Apple‘s first mouse, the Palm V PDA, and Steelcase’s Leap chair. Clients include Air New Zealand, Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, Eli Lilly, Ford, Medtronic, Sealy, and Steelcase among many others.
IDEO was formed in 1991 by a merger of David Kelley Design (founded by Stanford University professor David Kelley), London-based Moggridge Associates and San Francisco’s ID Two (both founded by British-born Bill Moggridge), and Matrix Product Design (founded by Mike Nuttall). Office-furniture maker Steelcase owned a majority stake in the firm, but began divesting its shares through a five-year management buy-back program in 2007. The founders of the predecessor companies are still involved in the firm. The current CEO is Tim Brown. Bill Moggridge died on September 8, 2012. While the company started with a focus on designing consumer products (e.g., toothbrush, personal assistant, computers), by 2001, IDEO began to increase focus on consumer experiences (e.g., non-traditional classrooms). Kelley applied the term “design thinking” to business in order to encompass the approach to work of IDEO across industries and challenges.
In 2011, IDEO incubated IDEO.org — a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to applying human-centered design to alleviate poverty.
IDEO’s organizational culture consists of project teams, flat hierarchy, individual autonomy, creativity, socialization of recruits and engineer buy-in.