Product Design: Lessons from IDEO

Make the Workplace Fun

David Kelley, the founder of IDEO, the world's leading new product design company, believed that if he hired people he liked and respected, everybody would have fun and more work done.


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IDEO Tom Kelley creativity innovation quotes

Play with your physical workplace in a way that sends positive "body language" to employees and visitors.

Tom Kelley




"The work was truly like child's play they made things up as they went along. They made most of their own furniture. They spray-printed used chairs bright green and laid discount door from the local lumberyard over dented filing cabinets to make desks. They slapped some paint on the walls and nailed up some sheetrock dividers. The room dividers were intended to give some semblance or privacy."




But Dennis Boyle promptly cut a circular hole in the wall between him and Douglas Dayton and popped in a ship's porthole. Adversity brought them together."


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"The musty offices were so thick with flies that Yurchenco and Dayton built a funnel out of foam core to suck up the insects with a vacuum. They called themselves the Fly Group. For kicks, they built a fly the size of a pig out of foam core, painted it red, and hung it from the ceiling."



IDEO Tom Kelley creativity innovation quotes

Pranks and play became second nature in IDEO. They gave people a sense that they had some control over their destiny.

Tom Kelley




Pranks became second nature.

When Hovey left for a week's vacation, he returned to find a sheetrock wall where his door has been.

Windshield cement inspired many office pranks: You'd leave your desk only to return to find everything glued down: soda cans, papers, pens. David's door was once glued shut when he was getting a pitch from a salesperson.



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 Another office was webbed in by the sticky trails from a hot glue gun.

There were rubber band wars and squirt skirmishes (similar to the pranks at Apple at the time), and plenty of water balloons dropped out of the window.




The pranks and play served a purpose gave people a sense that they had some control over their destiny, a feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves.


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IDEO Tom Kelley creativity innovation quotes

The history of discovery is full of creative serendipity.

Tom Kelley







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