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Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Innovation Culture of 3M: Where failure becomes a Learning Opportunity

For well over a century, innovation was always the heart and soul of 3M (Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing) producing 50 000 products in 60 countries. 3M created the right climate and management systems to foster creativity, ingenuity and new ideas. The key was clarity of objectives, freedom and incentive mechanisms for attracting talented employees, while seeing failure as an opportunity for learning rather than punishment. One of the most popular innovative approaches, was the rule of "15 % ", ie anyone can spend 15 % of the time pursuing a new idea . This contributed to dozens of well-known pioneer 3M products , from abrasives to adhesive tape .
With regard to commercialization of innovation, 3M adopted the " 30 / 4 , ie 30 % of annual sales must come from products developed over the last four years. Another was the blending of ideas and technology  from different areas of research.
 3M by combining technology from different research areas , developed in record time a sponge that conquered  16% of the market and sold at prices 12 % above its main competitor -creating sales in excess of 50 million dollars the first year in the US.
 

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