IDEO and The Deep Dive

It’s been over 10 years since US TV show Nightline first aired an episode featuring the inner workings of a Palo Alto based design company called IDEO. The episode became an instantaneous hit, and it is often cited as one of the most requested videos (by viewers) which ABC has ever produced. IDEO was then a well known name within and indeed outside of the design community, but what was so special about this profile of the company?

Whilst the product design produced during the program was far from flawless, the program did allow outsiders a front-row seat into an exploratory process and a working environ a million miles from those of a traditional business.

It provided the viewer with a intimate view into the workings and structure (or non-structure) of a truly creative environment. It demonstrated how radical thinking coupled with an involved prototyping process can produce many ideas.

Despite many businesses and individuals having since watched the program, it would be fair to say that not many were able to replicate such a process successfully. This is in part because many businesses still presume they do not require this level of innovative thinking and secondly because they may not feel comfortable in allowing the seemingly chaotic process of design to occur within a company, and indeed lead a company strategy.

Granted it’s a fantastic showcase for IDEO and indeed parts of it may seem a little contrived or calculated but for a company to allow such an intimate glimpse into a creative process is rare. One which is not afraid to show all the ‘messy-stuff” – that is the mistakes, the stupid ideas, and the inherently fuzzy place from where a good idea is born and more importantly the manner in which it is allowed to breathe and grow.

For me this is one of the better demonstrations of what a user-centred design process is and nicely captures the imagination, empathy and effort that’s required to create such a design. For these very reasons ‘Deep Dive’ is always worth a viewing.

Reiterating the maxim that “It’s all about the journey, not the destination”.

Filed under Industrial Design Innovation Interaction Design Methodology User Experience
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On Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 6:52 pm Comments Off

Sorry you'll have to keep your observations to yourself for this one…