Tuesday, November 17, 2009

3M's Seven Innovation Components

This post is the third about my trip to 3M. In the first post I examined 3M's culture, informed by its midwestern roots. In the second post I reviewed the concept of forward mapping and some of the opportunities and challenges of 3M's innovation exchanges. Today I'll recap and review the components that 3M believes make up its innovation success.

The seven factors or components of successful innovation, according to 3M, are:

• The relationship of innovation to corporate vision and business model
• 3M’s culture, which I’ve addressed previously
• Access to multiple platforms or technologies
• Networking
• Individual expectation
• Measured Accountability
• Connection to customer need

Let's investigate each of these components and discern their value for innovation.

Relationship to corporate vision and business model
3M is the first company I’ve seen with a documented definition for innovation. That definition is:
The use or application of creativity to generate a new or novel output having value for customers

Often when we at OVO work with clients one of the first things we try to do is create a definition, so that everyone is working from the same perspective. Demonstrating a standard definition means that everyone within 3M understands what innovation is. Further, Larry Wendling, one of our hosts, said that “Innovation is 3M’s business model”. I think by this he meant that innovation is viewed as a core strength and a competitive advantage for 3M. At 3M innovation is tightly aligned to corporate strategy.

3M's culture, which I've written about previously, encourages innovation and establishes expectations that everyone should be creating new ideas. The atmosphere is collaborative and collegial, and individual initiative is expected.

Access to multiple technologies
3M has six major business lines that span the gamut from consumer to industrial, healthcare to imaging. The fact that 3M has basic research and products in so many different businesses and technologies mean that innovators have a tremendous number of potential interactions and “mash-ups” within 3M. In a sense they’ve created their own proprietary, trusted networks. While we were in the innovation center we were introduced to 40 core technology platforms. This means that any innovator can explore opportunities in his or her area of focus, and also call on scientists and researchers across a tremendous array of technologies and capabilities. But beyond merely managing a portfolio of technologies, 3M sponsors and encourages cross-pollination.

3M encourages a range of informal networking, as we’ve detailed in our discussion on the culture. But perhaps more importantly 3M encourages “birds of a feather” to organize themselves into special interest groups. This informal, horizontal structure around specific topics or technologies is called the Tech Forum. On any given day you can expect that at least one interest group is meeting on a specific technology or capability in every 3M facility. The networking and exchange of information is truly astounding. These interest groups have formal leadership and small budgets to encourage communication, but are driven from the “grass roots”. These teams reinforce the 3M culture and are called “3M’s competitive advantage”.

Individual Expectation
Every 3M employee is expected to innovate. One of the most important early leaders of 3M, William McKnight, developed a set of expectations for employees and their managers. These included ideas like individual initiative, allowing the individual to decide how the job got done, and tolerance for mistakes. This encouraged individual effort and initiative. Further, the rewards and recognition structure reinforces networking and the innovation culture. There are few individual financial incentives to innovate, but several important recognition programs, including the “Circle of Technical Excellence and Innovation” and most prestigious, the Carlton Society. Only 170 individuals have been named to the Carlton society.

Measured Accountability
3M spends a significant amount of its revenue on R&D and other innovation activities. As such, innovation must produce value for 3M and the activities and outcomes are closely managed. 3M uses a balanced scorecard model to track its success with innovation, including such measures as:

• Incremental Revenue from recent innovations
• R&D spend
• Speed to market from idea to product
• Patents issued

Measuring the results indicates that 3M expects to innovate, and expects ideas to flow through a pipeline and become new products. That which gets measured gets managed. Innovation needs to be measured and managed like any other process.

Link to customer need
Innovation and basic research is not valuable unless the discoveries can be converted into value for the organization or its customers. 3M carefully connects its innovation work to customer needs (particularly B2B customers) through meetings and exchanges with customers in Customer Innovation Centers located throughout the world. Typically each facility has several meetings every day with corporate customers. These meetings identify significant challenges the customers face and help 3M identify the right technologies or opportunities for new innovation.

These are the seven key facets or components of innovation from 3M's perspective. Tomorrow I'll complete my posts about the 3M visit with the identification of some key challenges and areas of growth for 3M to explore.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 6:01 AM


Blogger Mitch Ditkoff said...

Good job, Jeffrey.Useful and inspiring!

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's what I call innovation, your entusiasm reminds me the scientific team that discovered generic viagra a few years ago.So keep your winning actitude.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Custom Logo Design said...

Good job, Jeffrey.Useful and inspiring!

12:29 AM  
Blogger Adrian said...

Love the talk about balancing the team. Often the best ideas come from discussions of ideas and not always agreeing at first. Good points.company logo design _ | _ logo design

3:20 AM  
Blogger Adrian said...

This is a very detailed article! keep up the good work! direct tv

4:02 AM  
Anonymous business logo design said...

hey, your post truly assists, right now i happen the identical problems, and i've no clue on proper way get rid of acne. finanlly i analysis google and discovered your publish, it helps me get rid of my trouble.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Logo Design Company said...

wow i really like to read your stuff...and for this great blog im gonna say thank you for posting and making this blog and for being part of here..keep it up.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Buy Duramale said...

The points on the innovation were good, but hard to take in.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks a lot for this time sharing of innovation about 3M'S SEVEN INNOVATION COMPONENTS. This is really the best website about innovation i have ever read.
stop pre ejaculation

7:17 PM  
Blogger MLB2k11 said...

I have no words for this great post such a awe-some information i got gathered. Thanks to Author.
Web Development| Web Development Company|

11:58 PM  
Blogger theinnerquest said...

Hi Jeffrey. I would like to know if there are some standard ways of measuring innovation across different industries.

1:22 AM  
Blogger theinnerquest said...

Post on 3M strategies on innovation is quite insightful. Thanks

1:24 AM  
Blogger JohnHawk1989 said...

Really nice one.!


11:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am impressed by the quality of information on this website. There are a lot of good resources here.

1:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home