Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful company, and the story of the invention of PlayStation is a prime example of how great ideas can come from anywhere. Even from an employee tinkering with his daughter’s Nintendo console. This story shows the power of capturing and nurturing employee ideas and the potential for those ideas to lead to breakthrough products, services, and even entire divisions within a company.
Sony Group Corporation is a multinational corporation that manufactures and sells electronic devices as well as associated services. An employee innovation program by Sony gave employees a platform to innovate. Leading to the invention of the PlayStation and a division for Sony.
The invention of the PlayStation:
Ken Kutaragi, an electrical engineer at Sony, first surfaced the idea of a CD-ROM-based gaming system (Later launched as PlayStation). He generated the idea while experimenting with his daughter’s Nintendo gaming console.
Ken was working at Sony’s sound labs when he purchased a Nintendo gaming console for his young daughter. Ken observed that his daughter was not happy with the Nintendo game’s sound quality. Based on his training and experience in electronics, Ken determined that a digital chip dedicated only to sound would considerably improve the quality of the Nintendo game. He approached his superiors with the notion of developing a new system for Sony, but Sony was not interested in computer games.
Ken negotiated with Sony Management to keep his employment at Sony while working as an outside consultant for Nintendo on their computer gaming devices. While consulting Nintendo, he came up with the idea of a CD-ROM-based gaming console. Nintendo decided not to go forward with the CD-ROM system. Ken then reached out to Sony’s then-CEO, Norio Ohga. Norio Ohga began a joint venture with Nintendo after becoming more conscious of the potential of the gaming industry. The partnership eventually ended due to licensing issues, but Sony continued to create its own platform, the PlayStation. Ken went on to lead the charge in assisting Sony in the development of its own gaming system. The Sony PlayStation, which uses Sony’s “System G” 3-D technology, debuted in 1994 and quickly became a popular home gaming device.
“I wanted to prove that even regular company employees said no, especially regular company employees could build a venture of this scale with superb technology, superb concepts, and superb colleagues.”- Ken Kutaragi.
In the first four years of the invention of the PlayStation product line’s existence, Sony’s yearly revenues increased to $7 billion, by the end of 1997. The PlayStation accounted for 40% of Sony Corporation’s operational profits by 1998. Ken was quickly recognized for his significant accomplishment as a Sony intrapreneur. Ken was named Chairman and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI), Sony Corporation’s video game division. Kutaragi established Sony Computer Entertainment as a major profit centre for Sony Corporation as its Chairman and CEO.
This story is an amazing example of how to capture ideas from employees in the workplace. It not only answers how managers can encourage innovation in the workplace but also depicts the benefit of idea management and implementation. If you want to easily capture employee ideas, you need access to idea management software that makes capturing and deploying ideas a breeze. Not sure which tool to use? This list of idea management tools should come in handy. Read the listicle here.