IDEO Alumni Begin To Lead. Move Over McKinsey

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 11, 2010

I’ve been tracking a few alums from IDEO recently and it’s clear they are starting to lead major institutions around the world. Bill Moggridge, of course, co-founder of IDEO, is about to take over as director of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.

And Mat Hunter, a former partner at IDEO, has just been appointed Chief Design Officer for the British Design Council.

Jeneanne Rae, founder of Peer Insight, a major services innovation consultancy, is an IDEO alum.

And so is Alex Kazaks,whom I met in Singapore recently at a Design Thinking symposium. Alex is now at—guess—McKinsey! He’s helping with their innovation and customer insights practice.

Let’s graph the movement of IDEO alums out into the world. If you know of other IDEOers who have left the sanctuary of creativity, let me know and we’ll plot their movement. This could be fun and perhaps important.

McKinsey’s exodus of alumns to public organizations and private corporations reinforced a culture (and a set of tools and methods) of efficiency, choice and incrementalism. IDEO’s exodus of people could reinforce a culture of opportunity, new options and iteration. This could be very significant. I’d love to see an IDEO alum in the West Wing.

Reader Comments

Bryan Zmijewski

January 12, 2010 6:58 PM

I spent a year at IDEO after our company Skyline Toys was acquired.

I can't say that ZURB (www.zurb.com) is a huge institution, but we've taken some of the same design thinking methodologies to help businesses grow online. We're heading into our 13th year of business, helped over 75 start-ups and been involved in over 1/2 billion dollars in exits.

Drew Jones

January 12, 2010 7:36 PM

This is good news, not only for the organizations where IDEOers are landing, but also for the world at large. While there is a growing chorus of anti-Design Thinkers singing louder and louder, this does not take away from the work- and impact- that the fruits of design thinking produces.

Just look at the Designer's Accord, and the types of larger problems that it now addresses, and it is clear that the whole 'DT for Innovation' movement is about more than just business. The whole short-termism of traditional left-brain business thinking has inherent limits, as the current recession underscores. New directions and new possibilities are desperately needed, and designers are well-equipped to help with this.

Sustainable innovation is good for both business and society. MBAers, on their own, are not up to the task. They need a bit of help!

I look forward to more such examples, particularly stand-alone firms like Peer Insight, which hopefully begin to build in DT style values in more and more firms and organizations. Monitor's acquisition of Doblin provides such an example, and hopefully there will be more in the future.

Always enjoy reading your pieces...Keep it up!

Christa Avampato

January 13, 2010 3:10 PM

Hi Bruce,
This migration of IDEO alums into uncharted design territory gives me great hope that this recession will lead to very positive changes in the world.

Mark Whiting

January 14, 2010 8:30 AM

I know a few more IDEO alums.

Opher Yom-Tov, now working on Customer Centered Design and Innovation at BT Financial Group at Westpac (a bank in Australia), he used to be GM for the Shanghai office of IDEO.

Leo Kopelow, now a partner at Daylight, he used to be a lead in the Palo Alto office of IDEO.

Kim B. Blair Ph. D.

January 15, 2010 2:12 PM

As the latest addition to Cooper Perkins (www.cooperperkins.com), I say Mr. Nussbaum might be on to something. Cooper Perkins' co-founders, Gerhard Pawelka and Harald Quintus-Bosz, are IDEO alums - Gerhard started there "minutes after IDEO was formed". The Cooper Perkins team, which includes additional IDEO alumni, is interested in technology development as a distinct practice from both academic/commercial research and product development. Over the past 8 years, Gerhard and Harald have collected people and technology development stories that defines the company as the connective tissue between invention and innovation. Exciting group to be a part of!

Gerhard Pawelka

January 16, 2010 1:11 AM

As long as we're making lists...

Scott Stropkay, former head of Industrial Design at IDEO's Boston office, founded product development firm Essential Design. Jan Schminke started as an intern at IDEO, came back as a designer at IDEO Munich and Boston, now head of design at Essential.

Richard Eisermann, another former head of Industrial Design at IDEO's Boston office, founded the very hip strategic design practice, Prospect Design, in the UK.

Ryan Mongan and three other IDEO alum in Palo Alto founded Speck Design, which also spun out several successful product companies.

IDEO was a great place to build muscle.

Chris Countryman

January 19, 2010 2:21 AM

Juan Bruce founded the new LA studio for IDEO's competitor Continuum. He was formerly at IDEO Palo Alto, then went to business school and spent some time as a creative director at an entertainment
branding firm in Hollywood before going back to his design roots.

Anja Klüver

January 20, 2010 1:17 PM

Mat Hunter is actually now the third ex IDEO-er to hold the top design post at the Design Council. Clive Grinyer held it from 2000 to 2003, while Richard Eisermann held it from 2003 to 2006. While I was designing various iterations of the DC website I got to know both Clive and Richard really well. Both great guys. In fact, Richard became my business partner in 2006 when we launched Prospect!

Philipp Schaefer

January 21, 2010 3:06 PM

to add: Roby Stancel, the founder of the IDEO Munich office, is now VP of Product Development and Design at Nanosolar.

Valery Casey - the Founder and Executive Director at The Designers Accord - worked at IDEO.

We really should start mapping that out...

Andrew Burroughs

January 27, 2010 2:15 PM

And one more: Craig Sampson, 20+ year DKD/IDEO veteran and founder of the Chicago office is now VP, Chief Innovation Officer at World Kitchen, stewarding brands such as Pyrex and Corningware.

Dave Blakely

March 25, 2010 6:12 PM

David Owens was an early employee of IDEO and worked on projects for Apple and Steelcase. Now David is CEO of Griffin Technologies, a provider of accessories for personal electronics and media. A long way from his early days in a punk band!

Dave Blakely

March 25, 2010 6:19 PM

Then there's Dave Bell, who was a mentor to many of IDEO's electrical engineers in the early 90s. Dave is now a successful CEO for Intersil, a $650M firm in Milpitas which designs and manufactures high performance analog chips.

kikus

June 14, 2010 8:10 PM

может у кого нить есть ещё информация по этому поводу??

Mike Strasser

March 7, 2011 2:27 PM

Since IDEO, I founded:

Think2Build (www.think2build.com), a San Francisco based design consultancy.

ReactorSF (www.reactorsf.com), a shared, collaborative workspace.

Founded two other start-ups with their own products (still in stealth-mode) that will be announced next month!

And I continue to coach Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability every year at Stanford's d.school (since it's inception).

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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