Culture & Competency

Innovation as a Cultural Tenet – Making It Real

Shawn commented on Will IT slowly strangle corporate outposts:

You can’t do innovation on a shoestring. For example, 3M, a company known for its innovation, insists that all its chemical engineers send 10% of their time working on their own projects. There are so insistent on this that any engineer that can’t show he spent the require 10% at his annual performance review, is immediately suspended from all other projects until he makes up the time.

Innovation requires lots of trial and error and a lot of blind alleys. It simply can’t be done on a shoestring.

My Comments
1. I don’t have data to confirm that this is true for 3M or not. But if it is true, talk about making innovation an absolutely essential and core part of culture.

2. It’s 15%, not 10%. And it applies to more than just chemical engineers.

2. What would it look like if the same idea was applied to collaboration, and making collaboration a core part of culture?
– 15% of time meeting with / talking with people outside of your teams and current projects, to explore / discuss things of interest.
– 15% of time actively reading ideas and discussions in your Lotus Connections system, and commenting on ideas / discussions that capture your interest – but aren’t related to your job or projects.

3. The core of 3M’s idea is “projects the individual engineers think are interesting.” They may never result in anything, but 3M has a history of innovation and innovative products that can be traced back to this 15% of time. For more, see How 3M Gave Everyone Days Off and Created an Innovation Dynamo.

Categories: Culture & Competency