An early start to my morning had me following links and remembering great experiences. Joe Drumgoole linked over to Guy Kawasaki who linked to Bob Sutton who linked to Bill Moggridge. It started on the topic of the definition of assholes but ended up on the topic on design.
I knew the name Bob Sutton rang a bell and sure enough he was one of the lead lecturers on a week long course I did in Stanford way back in 1999. It was Enterprise Ireland’s Executive Programme in R&D Management. That was one of the most memorable weeks in my career so far. We had wonderful lectures given by people deeply immersed in the Stanford and Valley culture and we did field trips to some of the great companies of the day including Genentech, Guidant, Cisco, SGI, HP, Excite and IDEO. I’ll never forget the HP tour of Bill and Dave’s offices but the highlight was IDEO. This is one of the greatest industrial design companies ever and their approach to development was an eye-opener to a traditional software developer like me.
One of the IDEO guys also did a “how to brain-storm” session with us and I was genuinely shocked to see how difficult a lot of people found it to, dare I say it, think outside of the box. I enjoyed every minute of the session and I think our team won the catapult on rails exercise. Not that I’m competitive or anything in remembering trivial wins from seven years ago.
No, I’m not digressing. So Bob is an IDEO Fellow and he has just blogged about Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge who is one of the founders of IDEO. I previously read and thoroughly enjoyed co-founder Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation and it looks like Bill’s book is a winner too. The book is about forty influential designers who have shaped our interaction with technology. I love the sound of it but at 816 pages, what are the chances I’ll ever get to finish it?
Whilst we can all talk about beauty in software design and web design, they still pale in comparison to industrial design as practiced by companies like IDEO. These guys create the physical products we all use in our day to day lives. From toothbrushes to tv remotes to mice to defibrillators, there is no aspect of our lives that is not affected by both good and bad design. Good design is deeply important and extends far beyond nice UIs on iPods. I genuinely rate IDEO as one of my hero companies and long may they have success.