Innovate Forward: The 3M Story & Beyond

By: Fatema Fatakdawala

After the success of our first six sessions, the Altitude Accelerator is excited to begin round 2 of our Innovate Forward seminars. This time around however, you can attend from the comfort of your home or office with our new and improved webinar format. Each session will delve into a specific pain point for entrepreneurs including a keynote success story that highlights how challenges were approached.

An ideal example of an innovation success story is 3M. A global innovation company with $30 billion in sales and products such as the famous Post-It sticky notes and Scotch tape sold in almost 200 countries, 3M has  “taken the leap” when it comes to disruptive technologies in the office business market.

So how did 3M manage to not only create a new market but an entire new industry? The answer lies in their business model. The company has dedicated 6% of its yearly revenue to R&D. Their new product development process creates a culture of innovation that rewards risk takers and tolerates mistakes along the way. This includes ideation sessions in which innovation champions create an environment of trust and openness.

In this way, by breaking out of their comfort zones, 3M creates teams that foster innovative ideas. Overall, their strategy involves a focus on disruptive ideas that go above and beyond their existing portfolio. In 2008, 3M began investing in startups such as GTG digital media solutions and Energy Inc. that increased their technological development side.

The strategies that innovative companies such as 3M develop can be applied to other startups. Some of the key lessons learned are listed below:

–        Have a proper R&D strategy for long-term development

–        Host ideation sessions with all members of your team

–        Allow team members to take risks to sustain innovation

–        Encourage and reward creativity

Make innovation the lifeblood of your organization! Don’t miss our first Innovate Forward webinar on how to evaluate your new ideas set for September 27th, 2012 featuring the Xerox Research Centre Canada (XRCC) success story.

Fatema joins the RIC team as the Communications Officer responsible for marketing, social media, event and web management. She is a graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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