IDEO which is a successful example of a business model innovation is an international design and innovation consultancy founded in Palo Alto, California, United States. This case brief examines and analyzes some core competencies of IDEO so that it can give advice to Dennis Boyle, an IDEO project leader on whether or not to put aside his company’s tradition of spending substantial amount of time and effort on the product development process in order to rush the Visor PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) to market just in time for holiday gift-giving season.
IDEO’S CORE COMPETENCIES
A company’s core competencies are its resources or capabilities that serve as sources of competitive advantages over its rivals. In IDEO, it is the company’s unique culture, innovative design techniques and especially the so-called product development process phases that differentiated the firm from other competitors in the industry. * IDEO’s culture can be described as eccentric, fun, innovative and creative. The outside-the-box working style plus the “democracy of ideas” management motivated the company’s employees to work to their fullest. Most noticeably, IDEO built itself as a flat organization where all work was organized into project teams which formed and disbanded for the life of a project and no individual had a permanent assignments or job titles. * Central to IDEO’s design philosophy was the role of prototyping which followed the three “Rs”: “Rough, Rapid, and Right”. Prototyping was so important that the company operated based on the principle “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth ten thousand”.
Furthermore, brainstorming played an essential role in IDEO’s design process as it sought to generate as many ideas as possible through almost daily brainstorming sessions. The two processes actually went hand in hand, with brainstorming sessions leading to rapid prototyping or vice versa. * Key to IDEO’s success was its innovation process which included five phases. The first and foremost step in the process was understanding and observing. This phase involved understanding everything about a new client and its business. IDEO’s belief was that innovations tended to be more appropriate when you were standing in the shoes of the users. Being user-focused was a skill which IDEO honed by employing teams of experts in human factors – anthropology, ethnography, psychology – to observe how real people actually use a product or approach a problem.
The second phase helped the firm visualize/realize potential solutions through tangible models to the point where a product direction was chosen. In the third phase, the company used CAD tools to develop functional prototypes and resolve technical problems. After the fourth stage namely Implement when IDEO team completed product design and verified that product worked, the team resolved issues to ensure smooth product release to manufacturing as the product moved from the shop floor to the client’s factory lines.
Going through all the five phases is crucial to help IDEO provide maximum value to virtually any client. If I were in Boyle’s position, I would ask for more time to finish the Visor project, emphasizing that IDEO’s job was to create great products, and the Visor could be one such great product if it were given the needed time. With more time IDEO would be able to go through all the five phases, improve the product and create the so-called killer product. By this way, IDEO can maintain its reputation and in the long term, Handspring could still sell a great number of Visors as quality products can stay in the market for a long time.
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Topic: Ideo Case Write-Up
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