Doing Good with IDEO

I had so much fun visiting the IDEO Chicago offices! Lawrence, Annette, Sara and Mary, a HUGE thank you to all of you for spending part of your days with us! Before we sat down to talk shop with everyone, Lawrence gave us a tour of the office. Even the offices at IDEO reek of innovation (in a good way). There were giant chalkboard walls, open meeting spaces, dedicated workshop rooms and even a rooftop deck with a community garden. One of my favorite spaces though, was the prototyping area. Bandsaws, screens for printing, a laser cutter and tons of raw materials for workshopping filled these rooms to the brim. And almost all of it was covered in a thin layer of saw dust. Positively delightful! Access to a space like this would be a dream come true for any maker!

After the tour, the IDEO folks gave us a run down on some of the recent work they have completed and an introduction to their process. While I was a student at Miami, we workshopped with IDEO a few times, so the process was familiar. It was really interesting to hear about how they apply their process to various projects. We’d been chuckling over the site for months in the Firebelly U office, so we were really excited to see it included in their presentation.

What was most fascinating about was, again, their approach. Before the idea of a website or text message notification system or any of the hilarious (yet effective) videos were produced, they conducted interview after interview after interview. (They picked up some great stories along the way, too!) I think what makes work is that it wasn’t a predetermined form they were forcing content into, they intentionally selected the forms they did based on the research they gathered first. This is an approach we often try to use with our clients because, ultimately, it does yield a better product. However, most of our clients come to us with a set idea of an end product – website, business cards, new logo, etc. I guess figuring out how to show the importance of a format-agnostic approach to clients is part of what makes IDEO so successful.

While I am sure we will continue analyzing the IDEO secret sauce for months to come, we truly did have a fantastic time visiting their space and learned a lot. Thank you again to the entire IDEO office! Let me know when I can stop by and live work in the prototyping space!

More posts on the adventures we’ve had at Firebelly U are online here.