IDEO Reviews | Glassdoor

IDEO Reviews

Updated February 28, 2019
160 reviews

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IDEO President and CEO Tim Brown
Tim Brown
105 Ratings

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Pros
Cons
  • "Very low pay and little opportunity for advancement" (in 10 reviews)

  • "The culture is largely driven by a boys club/popularity contest, but leadership is in denial or aloof which makes this more dangerous" (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Crazy, Kind, Fast-Paced"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Coordinator
    Current Employee - Coordinator
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at IDEO full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - A mindblowingly vibrant, inspiring, fun, quirky and youthful culture of helping
    - Everyone is a badass and has a cool story, it is fun to uncover
    - There is always something interesting going on--an event, a brainstorm, happy hour, crafty project, etc.
    - Nobody makes you feel "less than" even if you're not a designer. People care about you and will lift you up and offer new learning experiences if you care, do the work, and dive in.
    - The lens through which IDEO sees the world is a fun one; you'll notice yourself doing little things differently, being more optimistic, human centered.
    - It is never boring--if you have some skill to offer, people will find it and you'll be drawn in to do more / give more / share

    Cons

    - There's no ladder--it's a free climb up a mountain wall (not for the faint of heart)
    - So much change and ambiguity - the company itself and nature of my work has shifted so many times since I've gotten here; I've given up trying to define myself as xyz. I just think of my work as a series of very different learning projects, vs. a static thing. The explosiveness is nice because I have the time to pour into it.

    Advice to Management

    Address Turnover - It feels like while the community loves being at IDEO, there is always someone leaving. I think to some extent we've self-selected for curious, fun, bold people who want to explore new ground. At the same time, is there something we can do to continue to help people find their place or learning opportunity vs. leaving it up to luck and projects? There have been so many departures in the senior / director level and it really hurts the community.


  2. "It’s complicated"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Designer
    Former Employee - Designer
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Fell in love with a few projects I had the chance to work on. Traveled a few places and got the chance to work for clients I was dreaming of before joining. Colleagues are incredibly smart, talented, and emotionally invested. It's a culture of kindness and generosity among designers. The brand of IDEO is powerful and, if you have initiative, it can open a few doors while you are at the company, and after when you leave the company.

    Cons

    Politics: as many reviews profusely indicate, there is 2-class citizens systems which is obvious. I would add to that the drift the company is going through towards ultimate self-referentiality, IDEO celebrating its IDEOness. You can really see the cultural resistance towards really understanding the world we are living nowadays, especially when it comes to technology and people behaviors, whereas a company like IDEO would have incredible opportunities for impact with a more positive approach.

    Partners to me are the most negative part of the experience at IDEO. They are a separate entity in the org and as a designer you will rarely have a chance to engage with them. When you do they are often arrogant and have permission to say whatever they want. They just sit above everything else and they seem only preoccupied about their 2nd homes and ways to increase their personal visibility through side projects that use IDEO official resources and are laughable and zero relevant in this world.

    Craft and role of design is increasingly losing a center role in the organization, in favor of "strategic thinkers" which are the opposite of “talk less do more” cultural value. Leadership does their best to deliberately put designers outside of their talent for career development and ends up negatively impacting craft and the talent they hired for.

    Lots of new hires at director level that are bypassing the long climb and they have no clue about how to run a project and the process that IDEO stands for.

    “Ambiguity” serves the status quo, they will often speak about being a family, while in practice it is nothing but a corporation with all the.. corporate things that come with it.

    Advice to Management

    It was good since it lasted.

  3. Helpful (5)

    "Great people, inexperienced management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    You’ll meet some of the most interesting and nicest co-workers around. The culture team works hard to create a great environment and vibe. Work can be interesting if you get on the right projects or are chummy with leadership, promotions can come quickly if you’re one of the favored ones — an informal process that is more subjective and less merit-based.

    Cons

    The company is struggling to stay relevant in this digital day and age. The work, while thoughtful, is definitely far from cutting-edge. They also seem to do a lot of work with organizations that have dubious reputations — what seems more important is that they can write a big check. Over the years I’ve been there, I’ve seen a lot of really talented people leave, burnt out and overlooked because senior management are insecure or are unwilling to adapt with the times. The new businesses that are being incubated within IDEO seem even messier and are often badly run, with low quality offers or products.

    Advice to Management

    Be more intentional in strategy. Lead with a merit-based system rather than one based on favoritism. Get with the times and be less afraid to understand technology and work with it, or risk becoming a dinosaur.


  4. "Best environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    creative, intelligent and kind people

    Cons

    short projects, not enough time to get to root problems for long term impact,


  5. "Best place to be a designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at IDEO full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Design-led and truly human centered, collaboration is effortless across disciplines. Low egos. Exciting and purpose-led projects that keep you inspired.

    Cons

    Moving up takes awhile, low pay compared to a tech firm


  6. "Coordinator"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Coordinator
    Current Employee - Project Coordinator
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at IDEO (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Company culture, interesting projects, great people

    Cons

    I have not noticed any


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Increasingly corporate, more brand than impact but wonderful colleagues"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    Really great humans. You will walk away with friendships that will carry on beyond your time at IDEO. Depending on what part of IDEO you work in, you can feel a deep sense of family & community. Certain parts of IDEO do lack a connective feel though, so it's important to know the culture of the studio you're joining.

    Interesting projects. You will stretch your skills as a designer and build creative leadership. You'll sometimes have the luxury of being able to think big picture/vision.

    Well respected. IDEO's brand and marketing efforts are world-class, and they've done a great job at building up its story. That can be leveraged to get you into places that will accelerate your career journey outside of the firm. Unfortunately, I'd say its brand is more powerful than the work itself.

    Positive work-life balance. It's unrivaled to many other consultancies, and is the justification for the low pay. Great for new parents, as an example, and the ability to take time off for creative pursuits so long as your client work isn't jeopardized. The Experience Teams plan moments for us to come together and connect outside of the office, but this can ebb and flow depending on how busy they are.

    Put a few years in and you'll walk away with experience and connections that can take you further in your purpose and career.

    Cons

    Highly disorganized and disconnected. None of the different studios are integrated in a meaningful way. Each location has completely different cultures that are very dependent on the leadership & most connected/popular people in that location.

    Feels extremely corporate, and growing in this feeling every day. In my years at IDEO, I've seen a steady decline of the creative, playful culture that the firm was built on. A lot of focus on money, clients, margins, business...less conversations on the craft, design, impact. I have been disappointed about certain clients brought in. For example, businesses that actively destroy the environment or societal inequities they create. IDEO still chooses to work with them because they bring in a lot of money despite the fact that most people working there are progressive.

    Very low pay and little opportunity for advancement. You can move from the individual to team level pretty quickly, but accelerating beyond that to the director level is a massive challenge if you do not have ins with leadership.

    Horrendously behind when it comes to diversity and inclusion. I was so surprised at how disconnected IDEO was when it comes to D&I. There's a deep lack of understanding from leadership, and while there are active initiatives to try to change this, there hasn't been meaningful shifts. If you identify as a member of a minority community, it will be hard for you to feel connected to the culture there. You will not see people like yourself reflected in leadership. You will experience micro-aggressions and complete disconnects about how some project teams carry themselves.

    Toxic culture. I've been screamed at by a partner in leadership, have heard others talk negatively about others behind their back, and a lot of favoritism which isn't always based on merit. There's certain spaces at IDEO that are very much a popularity contest and feel like high school, but I did a great job of staying away from that.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Great workplace, ambiguity in growth, low salary"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    The people are brilliant, the work is interesting, and there is joy in the daily.

    Cons

    Ambiguity in growth, especially in new roles in the fringe business, and very low salary


  9. Helpful (13)

    "Enlightening, yet troubling."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Design Lead
    Former Employee - Design Lead
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The designers are absolutely brilliant.

    The work is interesting and more meaningful than you are likely to find anywhere else.

    Benefits are generous.

    Work life balance is unprecedented.

    The exposure and opportunity to travel is exciting and enriching.

    If you’re selected as a favorite, your ideas are welcomed, respected, celebrated, and given a fair amount of autonomy.

    Cons

    If you are not selected as a favorite, you will struggle. You will never be sufficient. You will never be valued or appreciated. You will not be supported. You will be gaslighted, scapegoated, and/or blamed when things are challenging. You will invest your entire self in this work, and it will never be acknowledged. I have never, ever, felt so judged as a human being at any other job.

    The culture is largely driven by a boys club/popularity contest, but leadership is in denial or aloof which makes this more dangerous.

    There is often a distinct sense that the cobblers children have no shoes.

    The company is playing catch up on things like the ability to implement and execute ideas to go to market.

    Little room for growth and career trajectory. More and more leaders are joining without having ever practiced Design Thinking, bypassing the dues that some others have paid, often over many years.

    People are elbowing their way into management roles for a collective of very senior designers that don’t necessarily need to be managed. Those whi do not have experience in management are not given the resources or support to learn. Hierarchy for hierarchy’s sake.

    Lower than industry average compensation.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Toxic culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    They think very highly of themselves

    Cons

    Incredibly toxic culture. If you are not one of the little darlings of this boys club, you will be made to feel subhuman. For example, as I was getting a cup of coffee in the break room, one employee screamed down another because she had tried to "rat her out" to a director. The basis of their fight was something as trivial as mis-booking a conference room for a client.

    I don't know a single person at the company how feels secure about themselves without being a pompous donkey.

    Folks also talk about the meaningful work. There are meaningful projects given in between paying customers to make sure that everyone is fully booked. No one is paying for this meaningful work and none of it will come to fruition. Most of the paying work is still nice curves on a surface.

    Advice to Management

    Stop telling folks the sun shines out of their backsides