Use Your Customers as Ethnographers

Several of the great success stories of corporate ethnography have 3M engineer Richard Drew as their protagonist. In the 1920s, Drew spent several days at an auto assembly plant, observing how the workers were using his company’s sandpaper. Two-tone cars were all the rage at the time, and Drew serendipitously noticed that the plant workers were laboriously and often unsuccessfully using newspapers to shield the painted portion of the car while the second color was applied. That alerted...

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