Case: Innovation at 3M Corporation
What had been 3M's traditional approach to innovation?
Product developers at 3M generally relied on more traditional methods of seeking marketing input. They collect data from sales representatives, focus groups, customer evaluations, site visits, and data on risk factors for diseases. Product developers mainly focused on finding new angel or twist on early trends and basically didn’t have direct access to customers. In 3M, Sales representatives contacted with customers to gain marketing data. Product developers were not responsible for understanding customer requirements. There were very few market researchers worked at 3M. Only one market researcher served 900 engineers. Instead, the firm hired out for market research reports from smaller market research firms1. The traditional approach of 3M was linear and incremental innovations. This strategic is difficult to understand leading-edge customer needs and cannot keep up with the rate of change in today’s markets competition.
Critique the Lead User research methodology.
The lead user research methodology captures the rich need information possessed by leading edge users who are facing and dealing with needs that are ahead of the marketplace. The lead user research methodology brings together very different users and stimulates creative discussions. Product developers are pushed towards potentially new concepts. The lead user research methodology provides a way to obtain insights from the market. Product developers are able to contact with users directly. The lead-user research method provides a way to uncover rich information on emerging and future customer needs, which may help companies to find the next breakthrough innovation. Limitations:
It may be difficult to identify lead users. Finding the right people and reaching the real lead users would be a challenge for product team. The lead user research process is time-consuming. The lengthy process...
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