Fast Company published an interesting article about an old story, 3M’s innovation culture yesterday, “How 3M Gave Everyone Days Off and Created an Innovation Dynamo” by Kaomi Goetz. The article repeats the well-known story of 3M’s policy of giving employees time to develop new ideas.
There is a critical element missing from this story.
Business Unit Managers at 3M are required to generate a rolling average of 20% from new products year in and year out. If they fail, their business unit is dissolved and the products rolled into someone else’s business unit. This drives business unit managers to continuously look for new ideas and invest in them. It is difficult to create new ideas, even harder to bring them to market. This policy drives the organization to make this critical step happen.