Ideo Partner Dennis Boyle at Startup Weekend Notre Dame Talking About Human Design

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Dennis Boyle, IDEO, Notre Dame, Startup Weekend

Dennis Boyle, general partner at Ideo, is not new to startups but, when he graduated from Notre Dame in 1978, there wasn't the same startup community that there is now. "We didn't have events like Startup Weekend", said Boyle when he got on stage at Notre Dame's startup weekend. However, there are things that he has learned over the years that he wanted to pass along one was the human element. Doyle reminded "Startup Weekend Warriors" that "while you're coming up with ideas, make sure you're designing for humans". 

He expanded on this as he talked about the dozens of Ideo spinoffs that have come over the years, from products that not only give sanitary toilets for urban communities in Ghana but also products that help people shop in a helpful and healthy way. The one thing they have in common is that they were all designed to solve a human problem, and they were designed not as solutions that add things for people to do but truly to help people do things. 

Take for example the Ideo spinoff that helps people in poor urban countries be able to use sanitary toilet facilities. Ideo started by looking at the problem: people need the toilets that either flush or a product that can contain and remove waste. They first solved the problem by making disposable toilet tanks that stores the waste for it to be disposed of by the households… but, after a short period, people got sick of throwing it away. It turned out to be causing almost more waste and ultimately not making it healthier for many of the people they wanted to help. So instead of continuing with either the past situation or settling on the new product, Ideo, along with Unilever, decided to create a new business that makes it both more sustainable and create new entrepreneurs. 

Ideo worked with Unilever to help locals in Ghana to develop franchises that rent and collect the waste for residents in these large urban areas. This allowed the people in the community to create a sustainable business for themselves and solved the problem with waste remove and sanitation. 

These are the ideas that Dennis Boyle and Ideo wanted to share with the "Weekend Warriors" at Startup Weekend - that before you get set on a design, think of the human.