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Five Questions For Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO

Posted by: Helen Walters on December 4, 2008

timbrownTim Brown is one of the best known proponents of design thinking around, while IDEO, the company he now leads, is probably one of the most-cited examples of a design company that’s embedded itself and its ideas in the business world (current clients include Microsoft, P&G and Pepsi.) A regular attendee of the World Economic Forum in Davos and an advocate for the sustainable design movement (IDEO, remember, is one of the supporters of the Designers Accord), Tim is coming in to BusinessWeek on December 16. He’ll answer five reader questions in a video interview. So… submit your questions below! Please make them snappy (if they’re too long, we’ll edit) and please include your location so we can credit you fully. We’ll post the video shortly after Tim’s left the building.

Reader Comments

Paolo Passeri

December 4, 2008 9:29 PM

I work at a computer manufacturer in Brazil, which has been an IDEO client. I'd like to know how can I bring Design Thinking into my organization? How can I make my peers understand it and work as design thinkers (untill your book isn't out)?

Thanks, Paolo


December 5, 2008 12:10 PM

I've witnessed this paradigm shift in the business world where design is now an integral component of business decision-making. Academia, however, has been slow to react. As of now, there are only a handful of programs that offer degrees in the related genre. Do you anticipate more US Universities restructuring their business school programs to include design thinking degrees? If so, what is IDEO doing to assist?

Michael Wedman

December 5, 2008 1:00 PM

I work in a software development group within a global professional services firm. Our customers are generally internal. Is the role and focus of design, creativity and innovation different in my world? Thanks.

Norman Birnbach

December 8, 2008 5:38 PM

Is design the new customer service? How do you get CEOs to understand the strategic value of well designed products and services?

susan kuhn frost

December 8, 2008 5:39 PM

How do you see IDEO and green design helping the economy in the recession?

Follow-up: What industries do you see as most receptive to seeing design as a way to help their companies survive and retool.

Fred Oliveira

December 8, 2008 5:46 PM

These days, more and more people appear to be clued in to what innovation and design thinking can bring to their businesses. Based on your experience, how have you seen company mindsets shift, particularly in recent months given the recession?

William Brent

December 8, 2008 6:09 PM

Design of "systems" is often the problem, not design of "products" (i.e. why design a better, more efficient toilet when we need to do away with water-centric sanitation systems). Have you considered a systems approach to design?

Saul Kaplan

December 8, 2008 6:28 PM

With the half-life of business models decreasing how do organizations develop an R&D capability for new business models.

M Shears

December 9, 2008 2:34 AM

Tim, there's a lot of talk about the need to rebuild America's infrastructure - its high on President elect Obama's agenda. How can design, or design thinking, help build an infrastructure that is future oriented, evolves with use, is adaptable, flexible, secure and rebuilds America's competitive advantage?


December 11, 2008 6:43 AM

Tim, how would contrast the methodologies of Design Thinking vs. the methodologies that a firm such as Innosight employs when looking at the challenge of igniting new growth within an organization ?


December 11, 2008 6:52 AM

When you take a step back, look around... smell.. feel... see... touch... nature and everything else that's around and between... then come back to reality: the current world and it's never-ending economic, social, ecologic, religious and blablabla problems that everyone is facing these days.. What does it all make YOU feel like doing? how does it affect your design thinking?


December 11, 2008 6:36 PM

How will you and your clients apply your design-thinking philosophy to address social issues like the alarming high school dropout rate in America (over 50% in a dozen most populated cities)? How can we inspire young people with the 21st Century skills so inherent in IDEO's process and so needed in today's workforce?

Stephen Allard

December 13, 2008 7:11 PM

With the end of the British empire in 1997, and now what looks like the end of the US economic empire, how do you see your Design Thinking strategy taking root in the next economic growth engine of China?

South Korea

Cornelius Nienaber

December 14, 2008 9:15 PM

If you had to design a memetic concept that captures and exercises all the best dimensions of the United States how would you start? What might it look like as a logo?

Helen Walters

December 16, 2008 8:23 AM

Thanks for all the great questions! Tim's coming in to see us this morning (Tuesday 16 December) so I've made the difficult choice of just five questions to put to him. So please don't submit any more... but do check back here soon for the link to the interview. Thanks again, Helen


December 16, 2008 9:20 AM

For companies seeking to hire "design thinkers," what characteristics do you recommend hiring staff look for? How can companies better cultivate their design-thinking cultures?


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