Case Study: Nike


Sam McCracken, General Manager, Nike N7

Sam is a basketball coach and a Native American – of the Sioux tribe in Montana. He also works for Nike – one of the most iconic brands in the world.

Sam’s community, like many Native American communities, are battling epidemic levels of diabetes. And for Sam, this is personal. His own mother died of complications from type 2 diabetes in 2001.

When Sam embarked on his intrapreneurial journey – he wasn’t working in some high-powered executive office. He was working in a warehouse in Wilsonville, Oregon, when he had an idea. 

He said to himself, “I work for the biggest sports company in the world. I must be able to do something in my role at Nike to help my community.” He didn’t have a grand plan, he heard in a need in his community and believed he could help.

Sam started working with leaders in his community to promote healthy lifestyles by organizing events – such as fun runs and walks. He arranged to provide free or discounted Nike products to incentivize people to take part.

As he saw the momentum around this project grow, he began to share his story with others in Nike. Sam’s energy was infectious and a team of Nike designers offered to create a shoe specifically for the Native American community; the N7.

The shoe would be a first for Nike; a product designed for specific foot needs of the community and that embodied the Native American Principles of sustainability – thinking of seven generations ahead and seven behind. That was over 10 years ago. Today, Sam is the Chairman of Nike’s N7 division – an entire category of Nike products, the proceeds of which are used to invest in physical activity for Native American and Aboriginal youth in Canada and the United States.

Learn more about the impact of N7 here.