Managing Innovation

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Managing Innovation

Managing Innovation

Innovation and Knowledge Management


In today's business world, innovation is the mantra of success. For companies large and small, the big winners are those that match new, marketable ideas with customers before anyone else can. It takes flexibility and creativity and a willingness to risk.  The innovation is a business process of turning opportunity into new ideas and of putting these into widely used practice. In term of the nature, there are five major types of innovations: novelty, competence shifting, complexity, robust design and continuous improvement. While in term of the extent of change, innovations can be divided into incremental, radical and transformational models. Innovation deals with the change related to product, service and process, and the innovation management involves people, product, process and technology(Heimeriks Duysters 2007 25-49). This report analyses the innovation processes of 3M. 


3M CO (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) is a company that manufactures all over the world, introducing new technologies and marketing a wide scope of products. It is present in the markets of healthcare, industrial markets, markets of display and graphics (, consumer and office markets, safety, security and protection services, electronics, telecommunications and electrical and transportation.

Requirements for Successful Innovation

For a company to be successful in innovation, 3M has stated that it needs vision (what it wants to be), foresight (a knowledge of where the world is going), an understanding of its core competencies (which will assist in setting Knowledge Management priorities), stretch goals (which in the case of 3M requires every single business, no matter what its history, to have at least 30% of its sales from products not in the line four years ago) (, freedom for employees to achieve those goals, and an atmosphere which enables and encourages people to give help and draw help from others. To guarantee such conditions for innovation are in place and sustained over time requires a long-term commitment from top management, the recruitment and retention of the right people and a strong support and recognition program(Lavie Rosenkopf 2006 797-818). 

Innovation Approaches

But doing these things are not enough to generate innovation. Management needs to be in touch through Knowledge Management processes with all the various opportunities for innovation. For example, trend intersections, an example being Warner's 'edutainment', need to be studied. Technology inflection points such as electronic chips becoming memory chips need to be assessed. Multi-technological approaches and how the company can alter fundamental customer value, such as CNN's 24 hour news, need to be examined(Heimeriks Duysters 2007 25-49). 'Synectics'® type brainstorming, and 'Idon'™ type scenario planning need to be carried out to generate ideas that can become new industries. With the above options in mind 3M has taken two main approaches to innovation: firstly defining needs that could use 3M technology - 'knowledge by design'; and secondly, developing new technologies that then require product applications to be found - 'knowledge by emergence'.  

Knowledge by Design

In the area of needs seeking technologies, top management is involved by initially defining, through planning systems, those customers it wants to become part of those end-user customers' adaptive systems. This way technical people are in a position to define the customers' unarticulated needs which may lead to new innovations(Zollo Singh 2002 701-713). An example here is 3M's graphic business, which began when panels of flexible plastic ...
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