Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hello IDEO!

Graduated Hyper Island students Juho Parviainen (Crew 9) and Robert Lenne (Crew 7) work at innovation and design firm IDEO in London. Having lectured at Hyper Island previously, the two came back and held a workshop at the end of last year with Hyper Island's Interactive Art Director students.

Why did you decide to come back to lecture at Hyper Island again?
Hyper Island courses always have an interesting group of students with mix of different backgrounds and goals. This makes for an interesting and inspiring trip for us as well.

What do you see in the current students that inspires you?
We were especially impressed by the way students tackled one of the exercises (maximize profits selling mulled wine) in a mere day with the help of YouTube and social networking tools. This shows you can come up with a concept and prototype it in a real and tangible way very rapidly. We were also impressed by the presentations on Friday, which really showed the how students embraced the power of rapid prototyping through role playing and storytelling.

Juho Parviainen
Photo: Linda Gavin

What kind of competences is IDEO looking for right now?
We're always looking for talented people who share a passion for creating human centric products and services. IDEO often hires people rather than skills. What we mean by that is that we care at least as much about the cultural fit and personality as we do about the skills around a specific discipline. Projects at IDEO are heavy on collaboration and team work, so we naturally look for people who are good collaborators and good at sharing their skills with the rest of the community. We look for people who are passionate about something and have drive to get things done. For specific list of skill sets and disciplines that we're hiring it's best to look at IDEO website where we always post our openings.

What type of courses do you think will be needed to fulfill the competence needs of the future?
With technologies becoming easier to use and deploy they are losing the edge as a competitive advantage. It's not enough to have the most features anymore, it's about having the right features. Consumers are moving beyond spec sheets especially when it comes to consumer technology products. As products and brands are moving beyond just individual products to delivering broader user experiences a new kind of designers are needed: Designers with skills to understand people, learn fast, imagine, visualize and prototype variety of different touch points, ranging from in store experience to mobile applications. This requires a lot of collaboration between different disciplines. So the future needs versatile, empathic and collaborative designers who are not only great at what they do best, but also have understanding and empathy to go beyond their own comfort zone.

In terms of technology, are there any kinds of currently used languages you think we'll move away from? Or, are languages no longer part of it, but rather the thinking?
We don't often look for people who know a specific programming language or not. We look for good thinkers and tinkerers. What is important is to know about variety of technologies and to be able to understand their benefits and possibilities when it comes to design. Skill that is most useful is being able to adapt and learn new things alongside normal project work.

The part where actual programming languages such as Ajax or Action Scripting come to play is when we do prototyping. We often try to prototype products and services as early as possible and this is where skills in programming languages become useful. So even if we don't specifically hire based on those skills the more you can build the more versatile you can be. Good interaction prototypers at IDEO generally know many different prototyping tools (programming, producing video, storytelling, storyboarding etc), but are also quick at learning new ones. However, it is good to remember that programming something is often not to best way to prototype an experience. Often times it is more valuable to do a video, act it out, or even do paper prototype.

What recommendations do you have for the students?
Learn and experiment as much as you can. Don't try to do things the same way all the time. Put yourself in situations where you don't necessarily feel comfortable and try things you've never tried before, this is a great way to grow. Then, once you enter work life, don't forget to keep doing all this all the time.

Thank you, Juho and Robert!

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