In 2001 Google engineer Paul Buchheit started using his ‘20% time’ (the one day a week Google allows staff to work on new projects) to develop a new product. Initially codenamed Caribou, the product was, after nearly three years of development, released as Gmail and would reinvent the entire web-based email category, capturing 53% of the market.
Gmail, now one of Google’s most successful products, was not an idea formulated by management and developed in a classic top-down waterfall manner. Developing an email product was not even part of Google’s corporate strategy at the time. It was one engineer’s passion project, driven by the belief that email services should be better.
It is an example of how one ‘game changer’ can positively impact the destiny of not just one organisation but an entire industry.While there are lots of small businesses that appear to have created a game-changing culture, Google is unique and unlike many other large organisations in how it has maintained its gamechanging culture throughout its growth. It’s a great example of what success looks like if you allow game changers the freedom to play with their ‘obsessive imaginations.