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Industry Design firm[1]
Founded 1991; 24 years ago (1991)
Founder David Kelley;[2] Bill Moggridge
Key people
Number of employees
550 (2008)

IDEO (pronounced "eye-dee-oh") is an international design and consulting firm founded in Palo Alto, California, in 1991.[3] The company has locations in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, Boston, London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.[4] The company uses the design thinking methodology to design products, services, environments, and digital experiences.[3][5] Additionally, the company has become increasingly involved in management consulting and organizational design.[6]

The firm employs over 650 people in the disciplines of human factors, mechanical, electrical and software engineering, industrial design, interaction design, and communication design.[7] IDEO has worked on projects in the consumer food and beverage, retail, computer, medical, furniture, toy, office, and automotive industries. Some examples include Apple's first mouse, Microsoft's second mouse, the Palm V PDA, and Steelcase's Leap chair. Major clients (as of 2004) included Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Microsoft, ConAgra Foods, Eli Lilly, Ford, and Steelcase.


IDEO was formed in 1991 by a merger of two established design firms: 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).[8] Office-furniture maker Steelcase owned a majority stake in the firm,[6] but began divesting its shares through a five-year management buy-back program in 2007.[9] The founders of the predecessor companies are still involved in the firm. The current CEO is Tim Brown. Bill Moggridge died on September 8th, 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:.[10]

In 2011, IDEO incubated a non-profit (501(c)3) organization to focus on projects serving low-income groups, partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Acumen Fund.[11]

Organizational structure[edit]

IDEO's organizational culture consists of project teams, flat hierarchy, individual autonomy, creativity, socialization of recruits and engineer buy-in.[12]


  • Dobbin, Frank. “High Commitment Practices”. Harvard University. October 10, 2012. Lecture.
  • Thomke, Stefan and Ashok Nimgade. Ideo Product Development. 9-600-143. Boston. Harvard Business Publishing
  • Kelley, Tom, and Jonathan Littman. The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm. New York: Currency/Doubleday, 2001. page 70.
  • “Recruiting Q&A: IDEO” Business week. 10 January 2001
  • "Designed Chaos - An Interview with David Kelley, Founder and CEO of IDEO." Designed Chaos. N.p., n.d.
  • "Navigate." Careers FAQ. N.p., n.d.
  • Stevents, Tim. “Creative Genius”. Industry Week. 4 July 1994. Skokie, IL


  1. ^ Harris, Jessica (26 June 2014). "David Kelley, Co-Founder of IDEO". NPR. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Eng, Dinah (29 April 2013), "Bringing Design to Corporate America", Fortune (PAPER): 25–28 
  3. ^ a b "IDEO LLC". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 2011-12-20. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  4. ^ "IDEO Contact page". Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  5. ^ Kelley, David; Kelley, Tom (2013). Creative Confidence. United States of America: Crown Business. p. 21. 
  6. ^ a b Nussbaum, Bruce (2004-05-17). "The Power of Design". Business Week. Retrieved 2006-12-19. 
  7. ^ "IDEO Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  8. ^ "International Directory of Company Histories". Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  9. ^ Bauer, Julia (2007-09-20). "Steelcase's IDEO will be sold over next five years". Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  10. ^ Brown, Tim; Wyatt, Jocelyn (19 November 2009). "Design Thinking for Social Innovation". Stanford Social Innovation Review (Winter 2010). Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Shambora, Jessica (7 March 2011). "Ideo designs for good". Fortune Magazine. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Dobbin, Frank (October 10, 2012). High Commitment Practices. Harvard University. pp. Lecture. 

External links[edit]