The legendary David Kelley of Ideo shares his background, philosophy and more in this Fortune (sub required) interview
"By 1991 our clients were asking for an integrated offering of design and engineering, and we were collaborating with two firms to fulfill that demand. Merging with them was the best way to help our clients. We had an all-company contest to come up with a name, and we all resonated with the word "idea." "Ideo" was a prefix, and we toyed around with calling ourselves Ideo-Space, and other words that sounded like ideology, but IDEO stuck on its own.
We have a methodology called "design thinking" that results in innovation from a human point of view, and the companies that were willing to take risks gave us a chance. One of the IDEO designs I'm most proud of is the Heartstream portable defibrillator, which we did in 1996. We designed it so that a naive user could pull it off the wall and listen to instructions on how to save a patient's life.
As time passed, we moved from product work to what I call services, experiences, and environment. In the early '90s companies started asking us how to help transform and design their organizations to foster greater innovation. We call it organizational design. Our biggest project now is transforming the education system of the country of Peru. We're designing new schools, the curriculum, and making sure the finances work."