The Drag Test
It took longer to launch a new product than our nation to fight World War 2’ said an engineer in the Grinders team at Ingersoll Rand. It took them 4 years to make a new tool. They were mocked as the ‘Toolies’ in their own company.
‘We’ve had enough’ said Stryker, the leader of the Grinders. ‘We will make a great product in 1 year and show them’!
The crack team was formed. Fussy top management were kept away. For the first time the engineers stepped out of the factory to listen to their customers. They came back with 100 new ideas.
Just one night before the big presentation the team faced their biggest challenge. What material to make the grinder out of? Plastic Composite or Metal. The team wanted Composite but did not know how to showcase it’s durability to the management. Standard quality tests in the company took a year.
That night, the engineers invented their own durability test. They took a steel tool, a rival’s metal tool, and their own Composite. Tied them to the bumper of their car. And drove the car on bumpy laps all over the parking lot in their motel dragging the tools behind them until the police forced them to stop the racket.
The next morning they walked into the meeting with the four tools. The metals were scarred and gone. Aluminium was dented. But their Composite was still in great shape.
The job was done. The Grinders created history in a year. Sold big and were never mocked again.
A story on creativity, commitment and innovation.
Original Source: How Strykeforce beat the Clock, NYT Archives. Also mentioned in Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath