Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2005 (Revised March 2013)

Phase Zero: Introducing New Services at IDEO (A)

by Amy C. Edmondson and Laura Feldman


Focuses on whether world-renowned product design firm IDEO's new customer service fits with the firm's strategic position and organization capabilities. Over the course of IDEO's 13-year history, an increasing share of revenues are a result of "Phase 0" projects—preliminary strategic explorations of future product possibilities for various client firms. Describes a specific Phase 0 project in order to explore the challenge of managing these strategic, intangible services in the context of IDEO's successful history of generating award-winning tangible product designs. A team at IDEO's Boston office worked with mattress manufacturer Simmons to discover unmet customer needs and identify new product line opportunities. Describes the challenges and questions facing the Simmons project team as well as critical and operational questions facing IDEO. Examines these issues through the eyes of the head of the Boston office, who wonders how to evaluate Phase 0 projects.

Keywords: Strategy; Service Operations; Product Design; Infrastructure; Customer Focus and Relationships; Innovation and Invention; Service Industry; Boston; United States;


Edmondson, Amy C., and Laura Feldman. "Phase Zero: Introducing New Services at IDEO (A)." Harvard Business School Case 605-069, February 2005. (Revised March 2013.)