Innovation at 3M
3M attributed much of its growth to its innovative products and incremental/extensions of existing products. However, of late they hadn’t come up with anything significant and they were stagnating. At this point, Ms. Rita Shor implemented the “Lead User Research” methodology to come up with four recommendations on new innovative products and strategy.
In my opinion, Ms. Shor should put forward their first three recommendations to Mr. Dunlop. They consisted of development of three product lines which were consistent with the existing business strategy that their unit followed. Ms. Shor should withhold the fourth recommendation of modifying the business strategy to include upstream containment of infections. The reasons for this are two-fold:
The senior management and Mr. Dunlop were already skeptical of the “Lead User Research” methodology and would not take kindly to drastic changes in their working process. Mr. Dunlop specifically belonged to the “old school” mindset and wanted to strictly follow the incremental growth strategy. As Maurice Kuypers rightly said, the senior management with its reservations, would in all probability shoot down the Lead User method itself. They could argue that the purpose of the Lead User method was to develop new products, not change business strategy.
Following the method, the team had already come up with three new products with tremendous potential that was in sync with the existing business strategy. They should try and implement these new products to see if the methodology worked. With the fourth recommendation, I think they are trying to do too much in a short span of time. After all, this was their first experiment with Lead User method and they should take one step at a time. They need to first establish if the new method was successful in getting them out of stagnation and then they should focus on rapid growth and new outlook. At the end of the day, the change in methodology was adopted to...
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