The folks at IDEO New York have come up with a short video about "embracing ambiguity," a parable about three designers navigating the foggy seas. Not only is it a charmingly crafty affirmation on resourcefulness and perseverance, it features a small dog in a sailor cap. Watch:
The video is precisely the kind of diversion that the Economist might cite in their brief profile of the esteemed design consultancy. A recent Schumpeter column ambiguously embraced IDEO's approach to both "designing things that you can touch" and, increasingly, "re-engineering services."There are three main elements to IDEO's "design thinking." The first is "lots of different eyes." It employs people from wildly different backgrounds—surgeons and anthropologists as well as engineers and designers—and lumps them into multidisciplinary teams. The second is to look at problems from the consumer's point of view: for example, conducting detailed interviews with patients about their daily pill-taking routines and how they feel about them. IDEO likes to focus on the outliers rather than the typical customers—people who have demanding medical regimes or who constantly forget to take their tablets—on the assumption that this produces more useful results.
The third element is making everything tangible. The company produces mock-ups of its products and processes, to see how people react to them "in the wild." The London office, in newly trendy Clerkenwell, contains an old-fashioned woodworking room and a newfangled 3D printer. There is much talk of "thinking with your hands" and "rapid prototyping."
The article does raise the topic of 'design imperialism,' but concludes with measured optimism about the future of service design—read it here.