Adaptive Path scheduled a visit for the interns to visit the Google campus and IDEO in Palo Alto today. At Google, we met with Douglas Vander Molen, who helped AP create Measure Map, which was then acquired by Google. The team from Measure Map then went on to redesign Google Analytics, which launched this past May. We also briefly chatted with Jeff Veen, an AP founder and the leader of the Measure Map and Google Analytics teams.

Overall, I wasn’t that impressed with the Google campus. Sure, there’s healthy free food (lots of wheat grass drinks), pool tables, a space ship, a dinosaur, and one-person swimming pools (complete with lifeguard), but there are also a lot of cubicles, no open design spaces, and no project rooms. Design isn’t something that gets a lot of attention, and it seems like it’s going to be an uphill battle to get design more involved in the process.

Conversely, IDEO looked cool and seemed like it could be a lot of fun. However, we only got a superficial tour of the offices. (Surprisingly, Google seemed pretty open to visitors just walking around.) The IDEO tour guide showed our group and a bunch of executive MBAs several of IDEO’s well-known endeavors, including the Nightline shopping cart, first Microsoft mouse prototypes, and Palm 5 prototypes.

The MBAs gushed over all of these. Though I couldn’t help but remember the comment the IDEO Chicago folks made to me during my interview with them this spring that they were so over the shopping cart as it happened so long ago. Apparently not.

There were loads of hanging bikes, open spaces, project rooms full of boards with tons of stickies on them, lots of vegetation, and a van inside the office that had been converted into a meeting space. They had a machine shop, a toy-making office, and a well-designed lobby. It looked like a cool place to work.

But the tour guide did mention hours being 8 am to midnight for some folks. I love design, and this schedule is not as demanding as grad school, but that did not seem cool at all.