3M1: Rethinking Innovation
Large (70K employees, $15bn sales), global operations (200 countries), multi-product (50K range), multi-market business.
Innovation ‘Claim to Fame’
This company has been around for just over 100 years and during that period has established a clear reputation as a major innovator. Their technical competence has been built up by a long-term commitment to R&D on which they currently spend around $1bn p.a.; this has yielded them a regular position in the top 10 in US patents granted. They have launched a number of breakthrough products which have established completely new markets and they have set themselves a consistent stretch target of getting 30% of sales turnover from products launched during the past four years.
How Do They Manage Innovation?
The company presents a consistent picture in interviews and in publications – innovation success is a consequence of creating the culture in which it can take place – it becomes ‘the way we do things around here’ in a very real sense. This philosophy is borne out in many anecdotes and case histories – the key to their success has been to create the conditions in which innovation can arise from any one of a number of directions, including lucky accidents, and there is a deliberate attempt to avoid putting too much structure in place since this would constrain innovation.
Innovation Strategy and Leadership
The company has always valued innovation and this has been a consistent and key theme since their inception; their ‘hero’ figures amongst previous CEOs have been strongly associated with enacting and supporting the innovation culture which characterizes the firm. Their overall innovation strategy is focused on two core themes – deep technological competence and strong product development capabilities. They combine these to enable them to offer a steady stream of breakthrough products and line extensions/product improvements. A great strength is the...
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