For more than 185 years, serendipitous strokes of genius and passion-fueled ideas launched iconic brands and defined us as a company. As we celebrate Inventors Day, Shane Meeker, our corporate storyteller and historian, sat down to talk with PR Week to share how understanding our past can help shape the future of our company.
One of those stories includes how a young, then unknown Thomas Edison was hired to work at P&G — as a mechanic.
During his time, Edison met with P&G co-founder James N. Gamble to advise him to invest in a dedicated telegraph line to connect the Main Office to the plant on Central Avenue, two miles away. Up to this point, P&G used couriers to shuttle orders back and forth. Edison taught employees how to operate the telegraph and remarked that Gamble was especially adept and skilled.
But as we know, not every one of Edison’s inventions nor every of our countless P&G innovations have worked out.
Edison famously said, ““I have not failed 10,000 times — I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
That’s the spirit behind the Wall of Failures — the most popular exhibit at P&G’s Heritage Center.
“The Wall of Failures doesn’t look back, it looks through,” Meeker told PR Week. “It can help you learn what not to do and what to be careful of. The higher-level learning has made it so popular that people want to access it all the time and constantly request for more examples including ones that happen outside the company.”
Understanding past successes and failures drives innovation, and, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that there’s always a smarter, more efficient, simply better way of doing things. This principle has led to P&G products that have changed the way categories think.
“P&G’s Heritage Center is about educating and inspiring the company, our brands and all its employees on the power contained within our rich company heritage and cultural narratives,” Meeker said. “We show how these can be leveraged when creating the strategies and stories of today and tomorrow.”
Read Shane’s entire interview with PR Week here.
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