IDEO Reviews | Glassdoor

IDEO Reviews

Updated October 22, 2018
149 reviews

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3.7
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IDEO President and CEO Tim Brown
Tim Brown
98 Ratings

149 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • "Low pay compared to other comparable roles" (in 8 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. "Understanding the landscape"

    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

    Purpose driven, great culture, highly strategic

    Cons

    lots of disruption and competition in this space

    Advice to Management

    keep focusing on talent and investments


  2. Helpful (2)

    "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.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "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


  4. Helpful (1)

    "It's so hard to say goodbye"

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

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

    Pros

    Everything you hear about the culture is true - it was truly a joy to go to work there everyday. Work hard/play hard mentality, sometimes you're cranking for days/nights on end, and then it's fully expected you can take a couple days off when the project allows. If you come from a more niche background, it can be tough to fit into the IDEO mindset at first, but you'll learn a ton and get exposed to an incredibly diverse set of clients and types of projects.

    Cons

    As with all consulting, it's a pretty unpredictable schedule, so sometimes tough to plan long weekends or vacations unless you do far in advance. Additionally, I can't really imagine being a parent there. There are plenty of parents there who make it work, but with the travel and often long hours, it has got to be tough. As others say, not a ton of upward mobility and you really have to advocate for yourself.


  5. Helpful (8)

    "Craft-based professionals (non-designers), consider carefully before joining"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at IDEO full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    IDEO is a special place with a bunch of talented, thoughtful, and insightful people. If you join, there's a lot to learn from the varied perspectives and a few novel processes.

    IDEO's workspace in San Francisco shouldn't disappoint anyone working in the tech space. It's not one of the absurdly-equipped outliers, but you'll never want for coffee, snacks, or an interesting office layout and location.

    Cons

    Every employer can be quirky or at times frustrating, but my experience at IDEO was unique and problematic enough that it’s worth sharing here so that folks considering similar roles can make a more informed decision about whether to accept an offer.

    This review is aimed squarely at anyone in the hiring process for a craft-based rather than design-based role. If you're a designer, take the job! This is the place for you to be.

    If you're a writer, a photographer, a marketer, an editor, or anything else of the sort: proceed with caution.

    Important note, I do not believe any of the issues below arose from intentional efforts to misrepresent the the role I accepted. Still, regardless of any empathy I might muster for folks at the company, these miscommunications or errors affected my working experience at IDEO in a real way.

    -----
    Before you accept an offer, push your recruiter and studio to clearly define the resources (time, collaborators, and budget) they have allocated or will allocate to support your craft. Get specific and practical about the tools, time, and approximate budget you'll need to complete work.

    In my case, my recruiter stated that the hiring manager wanted to have the resources conversation after I was through the door. Not pressing more was a mistake on my part, albeit a mistake informed by several comparable experiences at past employers where the employer and I were able to successfully acquire the resources necessary for me to apply my craft at my skill and experience level.

    I came to understand that studio leaders expected a role within my particular craft to function with the same resources as a design consultant. Take a critical look at the resources and support you need to do your job and consider whether a designer’s toolkit and relative autonomy will be sufficient.

    -----
    Push your recruiter and studio to clearly define the first projects you will work on. Ask your studio to clarify whether the projects are active and that the project teams are prepared to allocate time and budget to support you in taking on that project.

    In my case, with one shining exception, the five or six potential pieces discussed during two separate interviews were part of closed IDEO projects and therefore resources were not available to apply my craft. Studio leaders (while well-intentioned) then assigned projects that lacked actionable budget and fell short of the anticipated work that had originally attracted me to the position.

    -----
    If you’re joining the company in any kind of temporary role, assume that the benefits included in any offer letter or summary of benefits documents apply only to full time *permanent* positions. Clarify any benefits that are important to you as part of your offer, even if they're listed in your offer letter.

    In my case, major mistakes were made in terms of communicating benefits. Several significant benefits were (at best) clearly miscommunicated or (in the case of at least one) explicitly included in my offer letter, then rescinded. IDEO isn’t a startup, it’s a revenue-generating, self-sustaining business with international operations. These oversights are difficult to forgive.

    -----
    Finally, this is less of a specific interview-process flag and more of a personal assessment of IDEO culture: in my experience, IDEO management is less interested in integrating your craft and more interested in reinventing you as an IDEO-style designer who happens to have a background in a certain craft.
    I think that means that if you accept a role, you should adjust your professional mindset as you enter IDEO.

    Don’t expect to come to IDEO and work as a copywriter, a marketer, or a photographer. Come to IDEO as a junior designer who is better-than-average at writing, crafting campaigns, or taking pictures. And anticipate that while your conceptualization skills will benefit from immersion in IDEO's design process, most of what you are likely to produce will represent the "Minimum Viable Product" version of your craft.

    If that doesn’t sound appealing to you or if the opportunity cost that comes with pressing pause on demonstrable portfolio progress is too high for your profession, don’t take the job, no matter how tempting the work might look on paper.

    Advice to Management

    People aren't prototypes; a professional who chooses to join your company in a new role certainly accepts some level of risk in doing so, but should also be able to reasonably expect that a multinational, self-sustaining company has some pre-existing notion of what it takes to support that role and will be prepared to allocate appropriate resources.

    Sometimes, experiments fail. That's okay. In the future, though, I hope that you will do more research to better inform your hypothesis.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Business Designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Business Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Business Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    good colleagues, great brand, nice location with a view

    Cons

    Toxic culture from leadership. Nobody really cares about your thoughts on how to improve things.

    Advice to Management

    Open the doors a bit.


  7. "You will never have it this good again"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Portfolio Director in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Portfolio Director in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at IDEO full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Exciting work, smart and creative colleagues, fantastic facilities and tools, socially open, lots of trust for each employee. The business development process insulates the teams from working with really dysfunctional clients.

    Cons

    From a process and environment and consistency of colleague quality standpoint, from designers to loading dock, you will never ever have it this good again. So leaving is hard, but so is leaving home. Your progress through leadership roles will be much like you'd attain them on the outside as a freelancer, based on who you know, social trust, intellectual affinity, chemistry. There was no coherent career growth support system. It's more like the real world. Not a bad thing, nothing nefarious, just the politics of proximity and chemistry. You have to advocate for yourself and sell, even if in project work the team is paramount, which is a good thing. So it's kind of a cultural dilemma.

  8. Helpful (6)

    "No Transparency"

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

    I worked at IDEO full-time

    Pros

    * Benefits
    * Flexible Work Schedule
    * Fully stocked kitchen
    * Meditation/Wellness room

    Cons

    * Low Pay
    * No Transparency
    * No structure
    * Too much ambiguity

    Advice to Management

    I was SO looking forward to joining this company. When offer was given, we were very honest with each other with my skill set and opportunities that I would be facing. I began with zero on-boarding. I took initiative and spoke to others in the company that were doing a similar role as I was, and found out that I was NOT given the same on-boarding process as everyone else. I asked for the person I was supporting for more of her time and help, after a few weeks I was told that they could NOT give me time and I wouldn't be successful within the company. We separated ways, and I was heartbroken, but ultimately there was no investment in my success. I've heard of many others feeling the same way within the company. If someone tells you constantly over and over that they are being "fully transparent" it usually means they are hiding something.


  9. "Smart people, and awesome too."

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

    I have been working at IDEO full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Variety, interesting challenges, no limits, great work-life balance.

    Cons

    Lower pay, and that's about it.


  10. "Great company to work for."

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

    I worked at IDEO full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Amazing benefits & great company culture. One of the best places to work, literally — even in San Francisco, with all the great options.

    Cons

    Not as generous with salary compared to similar roles at other organizations. That said, it was somewhat made up for by the great culture and amazing benefits.

    Advice to Management

    None, keep up the good work.


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