IDEO Reviews | Glassdoor

IDEO Reviews

Updated April 12, 2018
139 reviews

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4.3
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IDEO President and CEO Tim Brown
Tim Brown
91 Ratings

139 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Low pay compared to other comparable roles (in 7 reviews)

  • There can be lots of travel, and while you might feel like you're helping the world most days, you could end up on the dog-food project (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Incredible career launchpad...but be intentional"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Three things I think attract and keep people at IDEO.
    1) Nature of the work. By far the most interesting and exciting buffet of consulting work you can find. If you contrast to other consultancy, corporate, or even startup jobs where ~80% of your time goes to planning, aligning, and doing ground work, and only ~20% of the time you get to do cool work, at IDEO 100% of your time goes to exciting work, either w clients or internally. Because clients largely come to IDEO when they are most ready to shake things up, you get to focus 100% on great content. Projects are among the most difficult creative challenges you’ll find. Also worth noting that IDEO is as hands-on as innovation consulting gets.
    2) People and culture. The community is built on trust, humility, and creative smarts. From recruiting and career development, to activities and initiatives, it feels like IDEO tries to take the most human-centered and creative road, hence everything looks and feels different from any other job I’ve had. A lot more organic. The people shape your experience, and the more open you are to being exposed and collaborate with people from all fields, the more at home you will feel at IDEO.
    3) Career platform. There’s really no common path at IDEO. While some may choose to focus on international experiences, or on certain portfolio vertical, others may focus on more asymmetric paths eg. convergence of tech R&D + design, data + design, inclusive design, etc. The world is your canvas here. The paths in and out of IDEO are also interesting, many move out to gain different experiences and then rejoin, others decide to incubate a new venture inside IDEO, and the network seems very close and fluid. Ultimately people at IDEO are encouraged to pursue their passions, whether inside or outside IDEO. What else can you ask for?

    Cons

    People that may not have a clear vision or intention for their career may have less control of projects the get assigned, but that’s common of any job. On the other hand, if the interests are too narrow it may be hard to always do that one type of work as projects fluctuate and timing always plays a role. I’ve seen some leave for those reasons.

    Advice to Management

    Incredible ship you’ve built! Continue to experiment and try new things, timing, people, and luck may get you different results. Love the opportunity to further apply design to all parts of the firm, and let it become a living case of our own methods and practices.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Pretty awesome"

    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 a year)

    Pros

    IDEO is a wildly creative and optimistic company with a fun, supportive, and open-minded culture. People are incredibly talented and passionate about what they do. You'll always be learning about new projects your colleagues are (somehow!) finding the time to take on—fashion design, non-profit work, Burning Man installations, and so on.

    Work/life balance is unbeatable. Nearly unlimited vacation days, lots of flexibility, free coffee and espresso machine, and happy hours where a makeshift bar gets rolled out into the studio for people to make cocktails and play music.

    People are happy, curious, and genuinely excited about what they do.

    Cons

    It's no secret that many people take a little pay-cut to work at IDEO, and we won't be able to beat the crazy amenities offered at neighboring SV tech companies (endless supply of free food, on-site gym, etc.)

    IDEO can also be a little political. "Radical candor" is one of IDEO's values, but people don't always say what they mean. (You hear lots of things like, "perhaps we could..." "this might be..." "I wonder if..." "I'm curious to learn..." and so on)

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Incredible place"

    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

    Pros

    Warm, inspiring, supportive, driven. A truly special and rare environment that makes play and personal development a top priority.

    Cons

    Some might find it challenging to navigate the nuanced and fluid organizational structure. If you like clear hierarchy, this is not the place for you.

    Advice to Management

    Do everything you can to support internal diversity and inclusion efforts that are currently underway.


  4. Helpful (7)

    "The sun is setting on IDEO"

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

    I have been working at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    Extremely talented colleagues that help you grow professionally

    Cons

    Cliquey culture based on popularity more than merit

    Advice to Management

    Diversify your business model quickly before market prices for design consultants drop below the level needed to support your business -- before you're forced to sell another limb to the Kye Collective. Good luck!


  5. Helpful (3)

    "Perspective"

    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

    An amazing, fast paced and innovative culture that will accelerate learning and skill development in the world of design. You're surrounded by the best talent out there and equipped to tackle a wide range of challenges.

    Cons

    Few chances to follow work through to final detailing and implementation. Great place for practicing your craft but leadership opportunities that keep you sharp can be limited.

    Advice to Management

    Make sure you are letting people flourish in the things they are good at before moving them into new growth areas where they may struggle to be successful.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Great people. Great Resource. Can meet the best talents in the industry

    Cons

    Some inner politics going on. Poor hr.

    Advice to Management

    Great for intern.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Tough to navigate, rewarding if you manage to establish relationships"

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

    I have been working at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    IDEO is a place that can afford you a lot of autonomy in how you want to grow and what you want to do. That being said, it's still a consultancy and is in service of others to drive their ambition. The employee experience can feel like you're thrown in the deep end of a pool, and then realize you're not even in a pool at all. But if you're able to have an open mindset, figure out what tools and levers to pull, understand that collaboration with a POV gets you buy-in, it can be a really rewarding place where you can really push an organization, design, and transformation in many ways.

    The people that work here are generally pretty amazing coworkers that you'll be hard pressed to let go of. Build as much community as you can here, and you never know if you might work with another IDEOer again in a future state.

    Cons

    There is a s*load of ambiguity at times. The systems have behaviors don't really seem to rein those in just yet, and you'll often have to figure a lot of initiatives, tools, and relationships out on your own.

    Advice to Management

    Like many others have said, being transparent helps a lot to understand the fact that we're all human. If full transparency isn't available, then communicate clearly at different levels of management and influence so that everyone gets aligned more quickly, instead of constant backchanneling.

    Teach leadership skills, and practice them at the senior levels.

    Realize the burden of aspirational leaders who have to demonstrate success on so many levels in order to seek the recognition and rewards of a Director title.

    Re-think your comp structure in order to stay competitive for the best and brightest talent.

  8. "Amazing place to work"

    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

    Working with incredible people on innovative projects

    Cons

    High turnover and limited upward growth


  9. Helpful (28)

    "Project Lead"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Lead in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Project Lead in San Francisco, CA
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    – The people you start with may very well become life-long friends. IDEO does an amazing job at recruiting interesting, thoughtful, and curious people all of whom have unique and interesting backgrounds.
    – The offices are all great and inspiring environments to be a part of.
    – IDEO as a whole has an inspiring network of connections, which are only an arms-length away

    Cons

    – Echoing much of what has been said, there is a reason why it's either people have either been at IDEO 10+ years, or are a bunch of newbies. Partners tend to create this cult like environment, where if you aren't a good-old boy, you will be faced with a long, slow uphill battle in your career journey, which can really squeeze you mid-career.
    – You are generally not promoted until you have been doing that job for 2+ years. It's not built on a foundation or trust or stretch people through new experiences, but rather, forcing people to fight for every singe promotion, especially at the team level.
    – Those that are promoted into leadership positions, are often ill-equipped and lack the people skills to support people in an empathetic way (which is ironic, because it's IDEO, which wrote the book on being human centered).
    – And honestly, some of the partners have been drinking the IDEO kool-aid for too long. Some (not all) can be full of themselves, and in some cases, just plain pretentious and mean, without reflecting on their actions.
    – They will often size you up at the as you become a Senior Project Lead. If you don't seem like a IDEO-lifer to them, it could cost you a promotion. Countless people have left at this level because they weren't given the chance to transition to Director. They pick favorites. Period.
    – While I wasn't a part of the newly formed Education Studio in San Francisco, it seemed toxic to me. I heard from countless employees that the leadership team worked people too hard, and managed in a very top down way, rather than meeting them where they are. That team is almost entirely new people now.
    – Last but not least, nobody says what they really mean. This is by far, the most passive aggressive culture I worked in. Feedback is always masked in generalizations and provides little to no insight about how decisions about your career get made.

    Advice to Management

    – Be more transparent
    – Make a concerted effort to support people at the "Team" level grow
    – Teach IDEO leaders (even partners) how to lift the little guys up and create a more nurturing culture (Notably, Tim Brown does do a good job of that–it's the partners below him that are usually egomaniacs)
    – Give more opportunities to others and don't take all the credit for the work a a team of people supported.


  10. "Great company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    Great place to work, learn and grow.

    Cons

    Too few paths forward to senior levels


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