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3m Case Study

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Week 4: 3M Case Study

Jeanette Hurtado

Creativity, Innovation, and New Product Development

Professor Christine Rainwater

January 29, 2012

1. There are many examples of successful companies. To what extent is 3M justifiably highlighted as the 'innovating machine'?

3M is an "innovating machine" because they (the company) have been able to identify their core goal and establish it all throughout the company as a culture, a day to day emphasis. They encourage innovation through their employees, as they support and encourage their employees to work on projects they chose to and allowing them 15% of their time to do so. One thing they have mentioned throughout the case study is that 3M has a successful management team and they have been able to combine different management techniques in which the company has also influence for them to do and inspire creativity. Another reason why 3M is such a innovative company is that they not just provide their employees with the resources needed to be innovative and creative, to include a 'genesis grant' which allows researchers to have an allowance of $75,000 to develop their ideas into actual potential product possibilities. The company also invests 6.5% of its annual sales turnover right back to research and development. This money invested right back to R&D is about twice as much as other companies invest in their R&D department.

1. In the 3M case study, what is meant by the statement: 'the message is more important than the figures'?

What is meant by the statement 'the message is more important than the figures' is clearly that although the company allows their employees a 15% of an individual's work week time to be spend to dedicated to such activities, this is not written in stone and cannot be worked around if your creativity and innovation must go beyond or not meet the 15% rule. What the vice president of 3M (Coyne, 1996) reported through his message is that the real truth of the matter is that sometimes projects will require more or less than the 15% given to them but what really matters is that they are dedicated, believe in what they are doing, and that the final product is well worth the amount they spend (or not spend) on it. It's not about meeting the 15% rule here but what the product is worth in the end.

2. Discuss the merits and problems with the so-called '15 per cent rule'. Consider cost implications and a busy environment with deadlines to meet. To what extent is this realistic or mere rhetoric?

Some merits that come with the 15% rule is that it inspires employees to be innovative and creative during this time and that they don't have to worry about thinking that they are spending time that shouldn't be spend on being creative and being an entrepreneur. Another merit would be that they (employees) don't always have to go and ask for time to work on their projects of choice because rather the company has already allowed for that time to spend on it. One problem would be that is an employee is already working on an assignment and needs to meet a deadline, he/she won't necessarily have the 15% time additional to spend on thinking or developing a new product by being innovative and creative. I believe that as long as the employee is meeting deadlines on a timely manner and they are being productive that this 15% rule is realistic in the sense that they would have time to be creative, innovative, and work on projects of their choice. It would be mere rhetoric when the employee may have a current project or assignment



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