Design Research Lead

In a nutshell:

IDEO Chicago is looking for Design Researchers who can lead teams in qualitative research across many different types of projects, including generative “blue sky” opportunity finding, nimble iterative loops of prototyping and user feedback, and qualitative studies that bring confidence and move ideas closer to market launch.

As an IDEO Design Researcher, you will work on multidisciplinary teams and use research findings to inform and inspire strategic decisions and design solutions for a variety of client organizations. You’ll translate research insights into powerful stories that shift hearts and minds and directly influence the final design.

Why is this role important for IDEO’s work?

IDEO creates positive impact through design. Our design work is based on insight generated by project teams, and Design Researchers lead the approach. Design Research at IDEO inspires design in a wide range of disciplines, and inspires clients to create human-centered impact. It’s at the heart of IDEO’s work.

Your primary role will be to discover and synthesize the diverse stories and insights that form the foundation for our designs, collaborating with your team and client and inspiring them with learning throughout the iterative design process. Although you may not lead every project you are on, as a project lead you will also be responsible for facilitating team progress and energy, project budget, and relationships with team guides and clients. Project leadership at IDEO means supporting teammates in their individual disciplines and finding opportunities for all to lead and contribute.

To be successful in this role:

  • Minimum of [5] years of qualitative research experience culminating in a sound ability to scope research approaches, lead fieldwork, conduct in-context interviews and observations, and communicate insights.

  • Experience translating and applying insights to inform both creative design solutions and strategic decision-making

  • Experience drawing from a wide variety of qualitative research methodologies, such as: conducting one-on-one interviews and ethnographic-style fieldwork, moderating group conversations, running live prototyping sessions, conducting co-design workshops, and engaging users remotely

  • Demonstrated inspiration by people: the ability and passion to uncover both explicit and tacit needs, dig into motivations, and identify patterns

  • Experience leading multidisciplinary teams

  • Experience working across a variety of sectors or industries, or in a complex multi-stakeholder context

  • Experience bringing others along in research process and communication of insights; comfortable collaborating and seeking alignment with others who may have different perspectives, needs for research, and information processing styles

  • Exceptional communication and storytelling skills

  • Travel domestically and globally to explore diverse human behavior and lifestyles

  • Demonstrated curiosity and active seeking of new experiences

  • Demonstrated comfort and openness with adapting or pivoting when an approach needs to change

Nice to have:

  • Fluency in multiple media for storytelling — audio, video, and photo documentation and production

  • Ability to develop frameworks and visually express insights

  • Experience generating insight from quantitative information and analysis

  • Familiarity with emerging technologies that can be leveraged in research approach —  data simulations, VR, etc.

  • Experience bringing new products and services to market

  • Experience supporting client relationships — working in consultancies or other professional services organizations, particularly supporting clients from large or Fortune 500 companies

  • Passion for making and ‘building to think’  

  • Multilingual fluency

What does IDEO offer you?

IDEO is a place unlike any other. At IDEO you can solve diverse, complex challenges alongside thoughtful, intelligent individuals who lead with curiosity, empathy, and optimism. Most of us feel that we get to do the best work of our lives at IDEO. 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, we respect the need for work-life balance, and we allow for autonomy in the design process and people’s career development.

Some previous projects to check out:

A New Way to Vote for the People of Los Angeles

Beyond Cars: Designing Smarter Mobility

Improving Quality of Life for Young Adults with Schizophrenia

Application requirements and instructions:

If you identify with our values, are excited about great design, and would like to contribute to our studio, we would love to see your resume and example(s) of your work. Your work examples should include two projects you’ve worked on in a research capacity. Please use this as a way to showcase your communication skills, both visual and written. In your work examples, focus on:

  • The challenge you were trying to solve

  • The industry you were working in

  • Your specific role on the project

  • The research approach and methods you used

  • Some of your key learnings, or insights

  • The impact of your research findings on design or business strategies

We know that many of you are coming from fields outside of design. We think of design very broadly! So, include examples of products, services, programs, businesses, organizations, or other experiences to which your research has contributed.


IDEO is an equal opportunity employer; applicants are considered for all roles without regard to race, color, religious creed, sex, national origin, citizenship status, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, marital, parental, veteran or military status, unfavorable military discharge, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law.