Innovation Insights from 3M (No Wonder They Have Such a Great Reputation!)


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There are many reasons why 3M is considered to be one of the most innovative companies in the world and I got a first-hand confirmation on this, when I attended the opening of their new innovation center in Copenhagen.

During my visit, I noticed several interesting pictures, posters and short texts on the walls and I in particular liked the below statements.

3M Technology Advancing Every Company
3M Products Enhancing Every Home
3M Innovation Improving Every Life

I like how innovation because a strong part of their vision and overall strategy. Simple, yet inspiring!

Here is the text from a poster:

What would you do if you had access to world-class laboratories and scientists, and almost one day a week to investigate a new idea?

A core belief of 3M is that creativity needs freedom. That’s why, since about 1948, we’ve encouraged our employees to spend 15% of their working time on their own projects. To take our resources, to build up a unique team, and to follow their own insights in pursuit of problem-solving.

If there’s a secret ingredient to 3M’s more than 100 years of innovation, it’s this: give talented people the time and resources to prove the worth of their ideas, and in the long run you’ll come out well ahead. Even if those talented people are mistaken, you’ve learned something.

Nice messages!

Besides this, I was impressed by the 46 technology platforms that are owned and controlled by the company itself rather than specific business units. This creates fewer turf-wars and it becomes easier to facilitate the cross-polination of ideas and insights.

Now, they just need to get their (external) open innovation initiatives up to speed. They have some work to do here as I have mentioned earlier in this blog post: Executives Just Don’t Get Open Innovation

Nevertheless, 3M definitely seems to be an interesting innovative company and it is be the kind of company that I would consider working for had I chosen a different career path.

You should also check out this post on 3M: Great Executive Quotes on Innovation: Insights from 3M

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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