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The Day I Broke the Intranet

Apr 07 2016

I was barely into my second week at IDEO's San Francisco location when a particular opportunity to get to know my new colleagues presented itself.

I had just relocated to the Bay Area after five inspiring years at IDEO Chicago. The Chicago studio is a tight-knit family of roughly 70 or so friends, often known for taking extra moments out of our day to inspire, uplift, thank or prank one another in the course of the work we do.

The IDEO San Francisco mothership, however, is much larger; nearly 200 strong across four independent studios. As such, it can be difficult for a new guy to know exactly how our forgiveness in lieu of permission culture manifests itself across locations.

It turns out quite well, I found.

Nine days into my tenure at IDEO SF, someone snapped a photo of Ethan, who had come up with a clever solution to shade his eyes from the passing sunlight as he worked (see above). The photo went out in an email to the entire location. The subject line: "Innovation".

If you're anything like me, you simply cannot see a photo like this without your mind beelining to Photoshop Battle. So, I made a few quick edits and offered up my reply-all:

Photoshop Battle

It would be an understatement to say that I succeeded in learning what I set out to about my new colleagues. When the dust had finally settled, the thread was comprised of more than 50 unique entries submitted over three days.

Check out some of our favorites, below:


Ethan Kardashian broke IDEO's intranet.

Photoshop battle - Ethan and Spock

Live long and prosper, designer.

Photoshop battle

Ethan makes fast friends on his morning commute.

Photoshop battle

Mastering the kraft of prokrastination.

Photoshop battle

Kiss me, Chewy.

Photoshop battle

One thing all of the debaters could agree upon: Post-Its should not be defunded.

Photoshop battle

Cruising with Golden Girls. Life is good, man.

Photoshop battle magazine cover

Watch your back, Gosling.

Photoshop battle

The blinding light of Butoh requires a sticky visor.

Photoshop battle - Rhythm Nation

Instant classic.

Photoshop battle - back to the future

In the future, we will be innovating like all get out. Just you wait.

The original photo is on Instagram now. Share our glory.

  • Burton Rast

    IDEO Alum
    Burton Rast’s passion for solving human needs via new, connected technologies is only outdone by his love for photography and his blind cat.

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