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University of Canterbury: Operations Management
Muhammad Abubakar

This report is based on a case presented by Harvard Business School, titled “IDEO Product Development.” The goal of this report is to examine whether an engineering design company, IDEO, should request more time to complete a design for a Personal Data Assistant (PDA) that was to be called the Handspring Visor. This report concludes that IDEO should ask for more time to complete the Handspring Visor design.

Todorova. but this was seen as providing fruitful conditions for the generation of innovative thinking and ideas. low-cost goals. because of time pressures. and innovative. a new company called Handspring was formed in 1998. The eccentric working styles and shifting of working groups helps keep the team members fresh and constantly excited. As a result. Business Environment IDEO’s culture could be described as unconventional. Its innovative Palm V PDA created a new direction for what PDAs should look like. exciting. Current Situation Though the Palm V project is yet to be completed. of which might restrict their creative ability and flexibility of thought (Latendresse. while maintaining a functional simplicity. 2006). but would lack the trademark high-quality and well-researched design that had made IDEO designs the front runners of innovation in the industry. This welcomed so as to increase the value and creativity of product ideas. the company decided that market research would not be essential for the development of its first project. there were no permanent job assignments or job titles. creative. Handspring is intending to create a more colorful and easier to use palm-size computer. He knows that Visor could be significantly better given that 1 IDEO Product Development | University of Canterbury: Operations Management . smaller and fully compatible product that could easily add functionality. which would be cheaper and have more potential for expanding functionality. With the help of IDEO. and the fact that the founders were former executives of 3Com and Palm.Introduction IDEO is an innovative and design consulting firm founded in 1991. In a way. it got so innovative to the point of being ambiguous at times for the staff and management teams. but once a team has been established for a long period of time. Boyle's team will have to keep the rest of IDEO in the dark about the project and the product would have to be developed nearly twice as quickly as the Palm V. Handspring was proposing a process which will challenge IDEO’s operative routine with tight dateline. IDEO has been a successful example of what innovative process and design can accomplish. Process and Operations IDEO’s product creation process is unique as it embraces the eccentricities of its business culture. it seems that the priorities of IDEO and Handspring were at odds with each other. 2009). & Argote. Dennis Boyle was asked to design the competing product. On the other hand. Handspring is intending to make the new Palm less expensive. though because of the ongoing relationship to the competitor Palm. In the 90s. Issues However. MironSpektor. Teams are formed for the life of a project and then disbanded. Boyle understands that IDEO’s reputation could be damaged by taking on a product that has such tight cost and time constraints. The problem facing Boyle was whether or not to put aside his company’s tradition of spending substantial amounts of time and energy on the design phase of a product in order to rush the Visor PDA to market. team members tend to fall into patterns of thought or role or persona. Healthy teams are extremely important for stimulating creativity (Gino. The Palm V is one of the many strings of highly successful innovative products the company designed. IDEO focuses on research and creativity as such deadlines were of little concern to IDEO.

using the product development model more widely used in the mainstream industry. it can’t afford to take away from the market share of its Palm Pilot V. and the Visor could be one such great product given there was no time constraints. if the product is rushed to market before it is as good as it could be. Knowing who their target customers are in the first place will help them to design the product that their customers want. but are. IDEO has contradictory interests for the two projects. The Visor improved features. useful. This is the process which IDEO uses to get to know their customer’s product. 2 IDEO Product Development | University of Canterbury: Operations Management  . Handspring felt this was unnecessary because the team members invented the market for the Palm Pilots and similar PDAs. These initial phases of doing the background work would be skipped to develop a product that was already in mind. it could have its name on another successful project. Alternatively. and competitive product. with the reputation of the firm on the line. stressing that IDEO’s job is to create great products. versatility (“slot” function). but because so many of the Handspring team members have close links to IDEO. Choices Boyle could:  Reject the offer to assist in the Handspring Visor product.there were no development constraints. The Visor consumers will be a group of people who not tech-savvy. it would need to market it towards a different group of consumers than those who would buy a Palm V. Given that IDEO was far from a mainstream design company. he could ask the management to delay the release so that more time could be spent designing it properly for the market it was intended for. it could fail with IDEO’s name on it. However. Some market research would have to be done to determine the relative value of these different components of the device for the consumers. if the Visor project is successful. In this situation. the Palm V and the Visor are similar products in some ways. it could create bitterness or resentment between the teams. However. and colors would be the significant differentiators for these people. The option of going forward with the Visor project with the Handspring constraints would essentially mean IDEO’s development Stages 0 and I would be skipped.   Recommendations If Handspring were to produce the Visor. different in fundamental ways that will affect the appeal for the target customers. This means using the Palm V’s market research result to improve functionality that would make it a popular. in fact. Emphasize on the need for market research. it is understandable how much apprehension Boyle must have felt. one must take a long-term approach when having to choose between such difficult options. less interested in design and are price sensitive. This comes at the risk of missing out on the planned market entry timing Handspring demanded. However. Third option is to accept the development timelines and constraints. with such a unique culture and methodology that had proven itself to be successful again and again. My recommendation for Boyle is:  Request more time for the development phase. the company producing it and its history. on its way to releasing a new innovative product.

http://personal. J. R. When and why prior task experience fosters team creativity.cnet. (2010). Peji.2139/ssrn... (2009). But considering that they were introducing a new product. Askhok Nimgade (2007).net/JustinCBean/bean-justin-ideo-case-study6090 Shim. (2006). IDEO Handspring Case Study Report. E. Entrepreneurship Process: A Case Study on IDEO (April 8.html Kokabian. Bowling Green State University. Bean. a healthy amount of humility could save the team a substantial amount of time and money by helping them make better decisions that are more in alignment with the desires of their potential customers. 2008).org/10..doi. G. Retrieved from http://news.ohiolink. Boyle should request that Handspring engage in whatever market research they are able to do before pushing ahead the design and production of the new device. Reference Gino. stronger product for the market.com/abstract=1595723 or http://dx. setting a good precedent for the new company. Harvard Business Review: 20p. as well as improve the reception from critics. Todorova. Handspring’s management should be able to see that more market research and time for design means a better. Retrieved from http://slideshare. F.cgi/Latendresse%20Frank%20J%20III.edu/sendpdf.pdf#page=100 Latendresse. F. "Palm V to get pager functions. and especially from a new company. giving the Visor a better chance of success when it does enter the marketplace. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn. J. If Handspring declines the request to extend the roll-out deadline.). S. Miron-Spektor. D.stevens. 2012. IDEO Product Development. This will make sales and customer retention more robust.pdf?bgsu1151007725 Bibliography Thomke.1595723 Word Count 1457 3 IDEO Product Development | University of Canterbury: Operations Management . The fact that the founders were senior executives and experienced professionals may have made it more difficult for them to believe that they didn’t know something about the market. & Argote. Doctor of Education (Ed. Individual and organizational characteristics that facilitate and Restrict boundary spanning of team leaders.com/Palm-V-to-get-pager-functions/2100-1040_3-273970.edu/~ysakamot/creativity/group%20creativity. and M. (2001). Retrieved from http://etd. L. This will contribute to a better product that is more tailored for the consumers who will want it.D." CNET News.

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