How would you respond to the following?
- Would you hire a woman?
- Would you hire an old woman?
- A really old woman?
- Could such a woman contribute significantly to a project?
- What could she teach your hot, young engineers?
While most founders would answer ‘no’ or ‘nothing’, IDEO thinks differently.
The company recently hired Barbara Beskind and both she and IDEO consider her 90 years a major advantage.
She applied after seeing an interview with IDEO founder David Kelley, who talked about the importance of a truly diverse design team and hires accordingly.
The aging Boomer market has companies salivating and hundreds are developing products for them.
The problem, of course, is that younger designers have no idea what difficulties older people face; not the obvious ones, but those that are more subtle.
For example, IDEO is working with a Japanese company on glasses to replace bifocals. With a simple hand gesture, the glasses will turn from the farsighted prescription to the nearsighted one. Initially, the designers wanted to put small changeable batteries in the new glasses. Beskind pointed out to them that old fingers are not that nimble.
“It really caused the design team to reflect.” They realized they could design the glasses in a way that avoided the battery problem.
It’s the little things that make or break products and the knowledge of the little things comes mostly from having been there/done that.
That kind of insight is priceless.
Now how would you answer those questions?
Image credit: jm3 on Flickr