Ideo Case Study Handspring Palm

Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2000 (Revised October 2017)


Stefan Thomke and Ashok Nimgade

Describes IDEO, the world's leading product design firm, and its innovation culture and process. Emphasis is placed on the important role of prototyping and experimentation in general, and in the design of the very successful Palm V handheld computer in particular. A studio leader is asked by a business start-up (Handspring) to develop a novel hand-held computer (Visor) in less than half the time it took to develop the Palm V, requiring several shortcuts to IDEO's legendary innovation process. Focuses on: 1) prototyping and experimentation practices at a leading product developer; 2) the role of playfulness, discipline, and structure in innovation processes; and 3) the managerial challenges of creating and managing an unusually creative and innovative company culture. Includes color exhibits.

Keywords: Business Startups; Innovation Strategy; Business or Company Management; Time Management; Product Design; Product Development; Business Processes; Organizational Culture; Practice; Problems and Challenges; Creativity; Hardware;


Thomke, Stefan, and Ashok Nimgade. "IDEO." Harvard Business School Case 600-143, June 2000. (Revised October 2017.)  View Details

Case Study Analysis: IDEO Product Development Essay

1541 Words7 Pages

Case Study Analysis: IDEO Product Development

The business model for IDEO began as an open-minded place to design, develop and manufacture new products. The last 20 years of proven product design driven by innovation has translated into profit margins for their clients and continuous refinement for IDEO’s process. IDEO pioneered “concurrent engineering” where design and engineering work together to produce aesthetically pleasing products that are also highly functional. This was different from many other similar companies that placed more emphasis on the industrial design than the engineering. IDEO’s strengths grew out of the ability to master this ability with high tech clients. Corporations came to IDEO because they had a proven…show more content…

IDEO further enriches these teams by being very selective in their hiring practices of individuals coming into the firm and when new divisions of IDEO are launched. Applicants are narrowed down through a rigorous interviewing process consisting of several 1-hour interviews. If an applicant passes through this formality they are next thrown to the team for further scrutiny. This last phase is critical because in the end it is the team, the whole, which makes IDEO strong not the individual.

When the 2000 case was written, IDEO was in demand. They had the luxury of handpicking top clients they wanted to work with on projects. Even with this type of reputation and client selectivity, a successful product design must come from a partnership between the client and the firm. Kelley promoted and exploited the awards given the company and IDEO’s exemplary innovation practice to continue to evolve and elicit additional business. With regard to the article, “Choosing to Learn, Learning to Choose”, IDEO seeks out clients that can supplement their intellectual equity. IDEO does not agree to do work that involves only decorative or low transferable knowledge project development. They want to engage with clients that have the tough problems – the clients that are pushing technology and accepted norms. IDEO could definitely be called a “knowledge

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