In a nutshell:

IDEO Cambridge is in search of a Design Researcher who is radically inspired by people, gathers great insights through in-context research and interviews, and uses those insights to help design teams create products and services. We are looking for someone who can amplify our designs by pushing the edges of how we search for insights and inspiration for both internal and client initiatives.

Why is this role important for IDEO’s work?

Great design is born out of great research. Design Researchers make the biggest impact by leading clients and teams through a journey of human-centered research to discover, interpret, and communicate insights and opportunities in an inspiring way, while contributing to all phases of the design process. They bring to life the voice of the people they’re designing for, connecting the internal design team and client organization to the human experience.

Once here, you will:

  • Work on projects within a multidisciplinary team often made up of designers, engineers, brand and business strategists, and other hybrid experts.
  • Design and structure the human-centered research portion of a project by planning for and then leading internal and client teams through fieldwork, findings analysis and insights synthesis.
  • Collaborate with teammates to translate insights into powerful stories and strategic designs for innovative products, services, spaces, interactions and experiences.
  • Travel to diverse regions inside or outside the U.S. to explore diverse human behavior and develop deep understanding of the intersection between people, business and technology.

What does IDEO offer you?

IDEO is a place unlike any other. It’s a place where you can solve diverse, complex challenges for our clients or the organization, alongside thoughtful, intelligent individuals who lead with curiosity, empathy, and optimism. Sure we work hard, but we also intentionally craft moments that allow our community to pause, create, and connect. We encourage our community to bring their whole selves to work, respect the need for work-life balance, and allow for autonomy in the design process and your career.

Some previous projects to check out:

  • Society of Grownups for MassMutual: MassMutual partnered with IDEO over a two-year engagement to design a service that might impart the wisdom of thinking long-term to those who don’t. Together we created a sort of master’s program for adulthood, where the curriculum covers everything from investing in a 401K to having that hard talk about a budget to how to pick good, cheap wine. IDEO helped build the new venture from the ground up—designing a brand identity, a digital platform with some of the most sophisticated financial planning tools in the industry, and a hip brick-and-mortar locale.
  • Wilsonart: IDEO partnered with WilsonArt to redesign their laminate sample wallboard, the “silent salesman” that hangs in the workrooms of thousands of architects and designers nationwide. A designer’s mood board represents the magical palette of materials that needs to convey their vision and capture the imagination of clients, but the standard wallboard included a distracting eyesore: sample chips with holes that hung from wire hooks. IDEO’s redesign transformed the wallboard from an unattractive necessity to a canvas that highlights the presence and beauty of the laminate.

Relevant experience:

  • At least 3 + years of qualitative research experience culminating in a sound ability to scope a research process, lead fieldwork, conduct in-context interviews and perform desk research.  Experience in leading design research for digital products is a plus.
  • Strong curiosity and experience in experimenting with new tools, technologies and methods that push learning in new directions, reach users in new ways, inspire the design team and content, or compliment depth of insight with scale
  • Exceptional communication and storytelling skills: fluency and confidence in inspiring teammates and clients with user-driven rationale; experience in not only telling stories, but also translating insights into actionable ideas/design. Comfort in using data to find and/or support a story.
  • Ability to work flexibly and efficiently; exercising a balance between research rigor, extreme organizational skills, and leaving space for intuition and inspiration.
  • High comfort level in working within a self-directed culture and navigating ambiguity.
  • Openness to critique from other disciplines, curiosity to learn from a spectrum of perspectives, and experience or strong interest in collaborating closely with creative designers
  • Experience working within a variety of industries and/or background in organizational design, start-ups, and/or brand strategy a plus.

Pop quiz:

Choose your favorite from two options. Answer in 300 words or less:

1. Blue Sky: The New Venture

A large financial institution needs to keep their edge in a competitive financial services landscape. They want to create an entirely new offering to help deepen their relationship with their core customer (55+ Baby Boomers about to retire). They don’t want to make a financial product. Anything else goes. You’re on a team of 4 multidisciplinary IDEOers who are ready to roll, how are you going to lead this research?

2. Enabling Creativity: The Culture Revamp

A 50 year old, Fortune 500 company that dominates the pet food market is trying to stay nimble. They’ve had a series of small wins with new products, but need help creating a culture of innovation. They want us to design cultural rituals, an organizational structure, and ways of working that align with their values while also helping them foster a culture of innovation and creativity. You’re on a team of 4 multidisciplinary IDEOers who are ready to roll, how are you going to lead this research?

No matter the prompt, some initial questions to get your juices flowing:

  • What are the big juicy questions to tackle first? What are the top 1-3 learning goals of this phase of research?
  • What tensions do you think may pop up in this project? Anything that will be tricky? Anything particularly exciting?
  • What types of people, experiences or experts will you seek out? What types of things will you ask them and how? What research methods will you use?
  • What type of ideas or materials will you bring to the field? How will you engage your fellow designers in planning and participating in research?
  • How will you tackle the research approach? Do you have any strategic frameworks you’re considering?
  • Go big here- we’re looking for a thoughtful and provocative approach.

Application instructions:

If you identify with our values and would like to contribute to our studio, we’d love to hear from you. Please apply with a resume, cover letter (addressing the pop quiz above), and a portfolio if you have one.