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Product Discovery / Ideation
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Bootlegging & the fuzzy front end of innovation
In the 1920s, 3M transformed itself from a 23-year-old sandpaper company into one of the most innovative companies on the planet. What happened? Did management invest in innovation? Hire the best and brightest minds? Partner with startups and entrepreneurs? No. They didn’t. It started with a young banjo playing college dropout named Dick Drew. The year was 1923. Prohibition was in full swing. Big companies can’t innovate. Why? Because they try to pick the winners. Winning ideas. Winning people. Then give them lots of money. This does not work. Most breakthroughs come from people and ideas no executive would invest in. So what happened at 3M? Bootlegging happened. Not alcohol. Projects. This is a story about employees who create breakthroughs they weren’t hired to create. They don’t ask permission. They just do it, under the radar. They still do their regular job. But they also work on their “bootlegging” projects, whenever they can free up some time. Any company can do this. I’ll tell you how.
3 Silicon Valley startups. 2 Fast Strategy transformations. Endlessly surfing waves of passion+purpose.
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