Every business has them but for the majority of the time, their extraordinary efforts go unnoticed. The unsung hero plays a huge role in the success of every company but so often their efforts can be taken for granted and the acclaim they so clearly deserve goes begging.
To illustrate this point, many of the tools and technologies that we take for granted today have been dreamt up or developed by people that we’ve never even heard of. From the email systems that we use or the social networks that we engage with daily, everything around us has at some level been developed by people that simply haven’t received the acclaim they deserve.
So what are some of the most noteworthy products that we use in our everyday lives that have been created by these internal geniuses?
Gmail is now one of the most popular email platforms in the world, with over 1.5 billion active users around the world. It is used by both individuals and companies alike and is one of the most recognisable tech products ever created. But do you know who created it?
Gmail was originally a side project of the bigger Google Groups project and was actually created in a single day by Google developer Paul Buchheit, who used much of the existing code from Google Groups to create this new email platform.
Its unique selling point was that it answered a very big demand for search given the volume of emails that were sent internally at Google and as a result, was launched with a market leading 1GB of space, compared with the 3 or 4MB of space offered by competitors at the time.
It was also built with speed and usability in mind, using a new AJAX language to load emails more quickly than their competitors.
Since its launch, it overtook competitors Hotmail and Yahoo Mail to be the most widely used email platform in the world and even one of the most popular websites in the United States. Not bad for a side project.
Ever heard of Odeo? Or Jack Dorsey? Noah Glass or Biz Stone? That’s fairly understandable, as who really notices the work of the humble developer?
While Twitter is now a worldwide phenomenon, shaping how we interact and even shaping the way politics works, it began as a side project idea, dreamed up at an internal hackathon at the podcasting company Odeo.
The aim was to create a product where people could communicate through an SMS style interface to a group of people. Simple in concept but from its launch in 2006 to 2012 it had picked up more than 100 million users who were posing 340 million tweets per day.
The Post-it Note
Not every great breakthrough has to be connected to the internet, and so it was proven in 1974 when scientist Art Fry came up with the humble post-it note for the company 3M. He simply took an adhesive that was created by a colleague and applied it to the back of a piece of paper to keep his place in the church hymn book. It is now a fixture of most offices in the world.
What is remarkable about this and all of these stories though isn’t necessarily the humble post-it note. Or Gmail. Or Twitter. It is that all of these were created as side projects. From the Google Groups product that spawned Gmail, or the hackathon that spawned Twitter. Or the “15 percent time” program at 3M that spawned the post-it note (not to mention the more than 22,800 patents that this programme is responsible for many of) that generates more than $20 billion in annual sales.
This shows that by hiring the right people and giving them the room to explore and innovate in a secure environment, companies can create the environment for unsung heroes to be born.
RecruitmentRevolution is proud to have sponsored the Unsung Hero award at this year’s Onrec Awards. These awards are a great opportunity to recognise the unsung heroes in every company and even if it might not always lead to a billion dollar concept, they are changing and improving the workplace for businesses around the country.
We would like to congratulate this year’s winner, Beverly Shaw from ClickIQ and also pay tribute to all of the finalists for having shown the skills and abilities that make them true unsung heroes. We’re delighted to have played a role in giving you the recognition that you clearly deserve.
Please join us in recognising the unsung heroes in your workplace, and adopt and develop a recruitment strategy and environment that will nurture your own heroes.