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Our Top 10 Stories of 2020

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Dec 30 2020

In last year’s top 10 stories post, my colleague Saige wrote, “We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store.” Upon reflection, I probably could’ve used more time to prepare for what the last 12 months delivered.

In between refreshing our local COVID-19 dashboards and the U.S. election map, we’re proud to have produced another year’s worth of Octopus stories. Thank you for stopping by to read our design blog. Below are the 10 stories you loved the most in 2020. And here’s to a calmer, kinder 2021.

IDEO Designers Share the Best Creative Advice They've Ever Received

There’s no shortage of inspirational quotes, but meaningful, personal advice can change a career and a life. A preview of some of the creative advice IDEOers shared in this piece: “A bad movie is better than an unfinished movie,” and, "When you feel stuck, draw a card and do whatever it says."


4 Ways to Work Together When We Can’t Be Together

Sometimes while watching TV episodes filmed before the pandemic, I get pangs of fear when people shake hands or stand less than six feet apart. Everything has changed in the last 10 months or so. This story contains early ideas on how to navigate design work during a pandemic. A question we’re still asking from this piece: “As designers, how do we design our way through this?"


24 More Things We Want to Redesign

Applying for a job. The news. Hot dogs. IDEOers want to redesign those, plus 21 other things.


How a Kid's Perspective Improves Design Research

Whether your design research is happening in a boardroom or at an amusement park, author Ben Swire argues that adding a kid’s perspective can produce better design outcomes. Although this piece is about his daughter, he is not biased at all.


4 Reasons Warm-Ups Will Fundamentally Change Your Work

Olivia Vagelos is IDEO U’s resident warm-up expert. Not only does she have an entire database of exercises, but she also designs them on the spot. Her firm belief is that every meeting deserves a warm-up—read the piece to learn why.


How Would You Reimagine Learning? 5 Visions for Our Post-COVID Future

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed an estimated 1.6 billion students out of the classroom. As teachers adjust to this remote reality, OpenIDEO asked a question: “How might we adapt to remote learning while also using this moment to radically reimagine what we need our education systems to be?” This story shares five ideas to shape this future.


10 More Documentaries That Will Spark Your Creativity

Devin Peek is a visual connoisseur, so you can trust her documentary recommendations are well-vetted. (She even saw one of these at its premiere!) This post shares 10 more documentaries to spark creativity; her first post, from way back in 2016, is one of the Octopus’ most popular of all time.


4 Exercises That Prove Listening Matters

It’s noisy out there. Drawing from Krista Tippett’s work, author Allison Press designed and adapted four exercises that dive deep into the transformative power of listening.


How Quitting Plastic Got One Designer Thrown in Mall Jail

There are some surprising benefits to quitting plastic: IDEOer Shuya Gong saved money and produced less trash. On the flip side, she almost got thrown in mall jail, so take on the no-plastic challenge at your own risk.


5 Tools to Design for Digital Confidence

Every single day, one million people use the internet for the first time. IDEO’s Jason Fund and George Joseph share a set of tools, created alongside Google and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to help designers build digital services that work for everyone—even if your user is touching a smartphone for the first time.

  • Jayme Brown

    IDEO Alum
    Jayme is a writer and native New Yorker on a quest to find California’s best bagel. She loves people, in all their creative, complex, confusing glory, and San Francisco’s morning fog.
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