“Age an advantage” for 90-year-old IDEO employee

Signal of change / “Age an advantage” for 90-year-old IDEO employee

By Anna Simpson / 23 Jan 2015

At 90, Barbara Beskind is by far the oldest designer at innovation company IDEO in Silicon Valley. She applied to join just two years ago, on hearing founder David Kelley emphasise the importance of diverse perspectives to design on the television show 60 Minutes.

At the time, IDEO was designing for ageing ‘baby boomers’, and Beskind’s first-hand experience of ageing was recognised as an asset. "Everybody who ages is going to be their own problem-solver," she says.

Beskind works one day a week, advising other designers focused on products for elderly users and working on her own designs.

So what?

The combination of an ageing population and flexible working policies could challenge the concept of retirement, with implications for social benefits and pensions. Beyond design firms, we could see more economists and policy-makers reconsider older people as a resource in themselves, rather than as a draw on resources.

Image credit: Phil Robinson

Sources

NPR (19 January 2015). At 90 she's designing tech for aging boomers

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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