Click the “tweet” button above to
tweet the information on each slide
Great work leads to improvement and innovation.
It’s creating a difference people love. That’s why
some of the most ingenious everyday
objects are the result of great work.
Here’s our top 5 list of brilliant everyday objects whose
creators took something GOOD and applied a great work
skill to create something GREAT that’s appreciated and
loved by millions of people.
each great work skill:
Ask the right question
See for yourself
Talk to your outer circle
Improve the mix
Deliver the difference
1. Cell phone
In 1973, Marty Cooper was tasked with
inventing a car phone. Instead of diving
right in to his project, he paused to
think and reﬂect. “Why are we calling
places when we should be calling
his parameters and challenged his
preconceptions of what a phone
By asking the right question,
Marty redeﬁned his possibilities, and
the idea of the cell phone was born.
One day at work, Percy Spencer noticed
that the candy bar in his pocket started
to melt as he walked past a device
emitting microwave beams. And that
gave him an idea. He realized that if
he could just harness the power of the
microwave beam in an enclosed area,
he could heat up food.
Percy discovered the heating power of microwaves because
he was in the thick of things, experiencing them ﬁrsthand.
And then he continued to see for himself.
The ﬁrst food he deliberately cooked was popcorn—it was
successful. Then, he tried to cook an egg—it exploded in his
coworker’s face. But because he took the time to see for
himself, Percy created an appliance we now consider a
3. Post-It® Notes
Post-It® notes were devised by a series of inventors. First, Spencer
Silver, a 3M employee, discovered a weak, reusable adhesive. He
tried to come up with a useful application for the glue, but none of
his ideas got off the ground until ﬁve years later, when he spoke
with Geoff Nicholson. Nicholson invented a sticky board using the
adhesive, and started marketing it. Nicholson then introduced Art
Fry to the adhesive, who decided to use it on the back of slips of
paper to keep his place in his hymnbook. The initial Post-It® note
Silver spoke to Nicholson and Nicholson
involved Fry—without all three of their
ideas, the weak, reusable adhesive that
now gives Post-It® notes their stick may
never have been used successfully. But by
speaking to their outer circle,
gathering ideas, and collaborating, together
these men invented the Post-It note.
4. Soda Bottle
In 2006, Rajendra Gursahaney, a Pepsi
executive, wanted to invent a soda bottle
that used less plastic—a bottle that would
weigh less, cost less, and waste less. But
the process wasn’t easy. He had to hand
test different techniques, build a team of
experts from different industries, and even
relocate to test his creation in Germany
and then in Russia. Finally, he succeeded
in reducing the amount of plastic per soda
bottle by nearly 25%.
Rajendra succeeded because he persevered. He
improved the mix
and stuck with his innovation, testing, tweaking, and
perfecting the bottles until they were just right.
He oversaw the implementation of the new soda
bottles, which save PepsiCo nearly $8 million
annually. It was his drive to see the project through &
deliver the difference
that created a greener, leaner bottle.
When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger developed an app called
Burbn they were excited to help users share their location with
friends and family wherever they were. As part of sharing one’s
whereabouts, Burbn also gave users the ability to take a photo of
their location and post it online. But after Burbn didn’t take
off—people weren’t using it and found the app too complex with
too many features—they stopped and asked: what was the one
thing about Burbn that delivered a difference? To their surprise,
it was the photo sharing aspect of it. So the two developers started
looking at every app available at the time in the photography category.
Kevin and Mike’s response to their initial failure was
to look at what they learned and move on from there.
They developed a new app that let users capture a
life moment in a photo, customized its look, write a
caption, and post it. Instagram came to life and a
difference was made
that people truly love.
Using these Great Work skills,
how can you take your work
from good to great?
• Can you make it faster?
• Can you make easier?
• Can you make it more efficient, or more valuable?
• Can you make it more interesting?
• Can you make a difference that the recipient of
your work will love?
We invite you to take
the Great Work Challenge
and become a difference-maker in your organization today.
O.C. TANNER AND THE O.C. TANNER INSTITUTE
O.C. Tanner, number 40 on the 2015 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies
to Work For® list, helps organizations create great work environments
by inspiring and appreciating great work. Thousands of clients
globally use the company’s cloud-based technology, tools, awards,
and education services to engage talent, increase performance,
drive goals, and create experiences that fuel the human spirit. Learn
more at octanner.com.
The O.C. Tanner Institute regularly commissions research and provides
a global forum for exchanging ideas about recognition, engagement,
leadership, culture, human values, and sound business principles.
MYTHS ABOUT GREAT WORK:
AND the Reality of What to Do to
Make it Happen
How to Master the Art
of a Great Meeting
SHRM CONFERENCE 2015
from Today’s Top Women Leaders
O.C. TANNER CORPORATE WEBSITE 2014
BRAND COLOR HEX# FORMULAS
HOW TO PREPARE FOR
More Presentations By O.C. Tanner