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Innovation : Breakthrough Thinking at 3M, DuPont, GE, Pfizer, and Rubbermaid (Businessmasters Series) Hardcover – June 11, 1997
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Bringing just one product from conception to market is a challenging feat. Yet 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co.) has 50,000 products on the market worldwide and Rubbermaid (often ranked as one of the USA's ten "most admired companies") has over 5,000.
What are some of the successful methods for encouraging innovation? 3M has a rule that allows technical employees to use up to 15% of their time to pursue their own ideas without any monitoring by their supervisors. 3M also has a goal called 30/4. This means "30% of all sales come from products that have been around no longer than 4 years".
But it is not all formulas and goals. Dr. Miller of Dupont points out the importance of intuition and allowing "technical people freedom to break away from the plan and follow their noses". A GE VP points out that despite all that their massive laboratories are capable of; their number-one priority must always be the customers' needs.
In some fields, such as the pharmaceutical field, it would seem the small entrepreneur is locked out. It now takes many years and up to 500 million dollars to get FDA drug approval (up from 50 million dollars just 20 years ago)! Like others, the Pfizer experience is that "the most productive scientists are the self-starters".
It is interesting to note that despite enormous research efforts, serendipity still plays a role. For example, Pfizer had developed a new heart medication that did not live up to expectations.Read more ›