3m Innovation Strategy Case Study

Case Study of Innovation at 3M Essay

2606 WordsSep 12th, 201311 Pages

Creativity & innovation is important for enterprises, especially high-tech corporations. In the trend of extensive globalization, it is almost impossible for any enterprise to survive in the business world without seeking help from creative innovations. The paper focuses on significance of creativity & innovation in the operation of a famous company----3M. 3M is a manufacturing company that has a long history, it has a series of well-known products and brands. The first part of the paper will identify and discuss three issues in the case study of 3M, which intrigues me the most. In the next part of the paper, the creative innovation method used in 3M will be hypothetically applied to an electronic company in Hong Kong; the…show more content…

In these companies, if a technical employee want to be promoted to the management level, he or she has to first made a submission to the senior management level about changing their position from technology to management, and then he or she has to start from zero in the management field of the company and then slowly get promoted. Comparing to these companies, 3M has chosen a wise way to give its employees appropriate incentive by setting forth such policy. It is also a good example to show that the company respects its employees and is willing to provide them with opportunities to make their own occupational decisions.

The third point in 3M’s innovation method I want to address in this paper is that the company’s integration of its innovation creativity process and outcomes. According to the case study material, the 3M company figures out ways to involve its consumers in the innovation process, this indicates that the company looks upon to linking its innovation outcomes to the consumers’ needs. (Figueroa & Conceicao, 2000) By inviting the consumers into its innovation producing process, 3M is better able to identify the what the consumers’ needs and interact with them about how to apply creative ideas into products. What is more, the company can influence consumers’ potential needs by including them in such process.

Many companies might have similar

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Any review of the literature on new product development and innovation management will uncover numerousreferences to 3M. The organisation

is synonymous with innovation and has been described as ‘a smooth runninginnovation machine’ (Mitchell, 1989). Year after year 3M is celebrated in the


500 rankings as the ‘mostrespected company’ and the ‘most innovative company’. Management guru

s from Peter Drucker to Tom Peterscontinually refer to the company as a shining example of an innovative company. This case study takes a look at thecompany behind some of the most famous brands in the marketplace, including Post-it® Notes. It examines the

company’s heritage and shows how it has arrived at this enviable position. Furthermore, the case study attempts to

clarify what it is that makes 3M stand out from other organisations.


Originally known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, with its headquarters in St Paul,Minnesota, 3M was established in 1902 to mine abrasive minerals for the production of a single product, sandpaper.From these inauspicious beginnings, the company has grown organically, concentrating on the internal development

of new products in a variety of different industries. The latest review of the company’s position reveals that it

manufactures over 60,000 products, has operations in 61 countries, employs 75,000 people and has achieved anaverage year-on-year growth in sales of 10 per cent (


Figure 16.10). Its products include Scotch adhesive tapes,fibre-optic connectors, abrasives, adhesives, floppy disks, aerosol inhalers, medical diagnostic products and Post-it Notes.

3M gave the world ‘wet or dry’

abrasives, which did so much to reduce the incidence of respiratory disease in the1920s. It invented self-adhesive tape in 1925, light-reflective materials in the 1940s and pioneered magneticrecording and photocopying. This heritage established the technology from which many of its products are still

derived. To reinforce this impressive performance, 3M is consistently ranked among the top 10 of America’s most

admired companies in the US journal


, in its annual review of the top 500 companies in the United States.3M is a large and unusually diverse company.

The 3M approach to innovation

Many writers, academics and business leaders have argued that the key to successful innovation is goodmanagement (Henderson, 1994). Arguably, this is precisely what 3M has mastered. A closer inspection, however,will reveal that the company has combined a variety of management techniques, such as good communications andthe setting of clear objectives with a company culture built on more than 90 years of nurturing ideas and fosteringcreativity. It uses a combination of structured research and individual freedom to explore ideas by allowing researchscientists to spend 15 per cent of their time conducting projects of their own choosing. It is a unique combination of activities that is, by definition, difficult to replicate. They are described in this case study under the followingheadings:


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