Innovation at 3M Corporation Case Solution & Answer

Innovation at 3M Corporation


“Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company” was the previous name of the 3M Company. It is a global corporation in the “United States” that has interests in “industry, worker safety, health care, and consumer goods”. “Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of Saint Paul,” according to the website(Nimgade, 2002).

The “3M Company” is familiar with its “inventive culture” and “R&D efforts”, which have resulted in creating several “new products” for both the “industrial” and “consumer markets”. Rita Shor works as the company’s product expert. She recruited a team of subject experts to solve the problem using “Lead User Research,” a new and creative market research approach she learned at MIT. The goal of this activity is to collect data about consumer demands and then present items to the market that meet those needs.

Problem Statement

In this example, the “3M Corporation” uses and learns a new technique known as “Lead User research” to better predict “future customer” and “market expectations”. A team from “3M’s Medical-Surgical Markets” Division employs the “Lead User approach” to find not just “new product concepts”, but also a very good “new commercial strategy” in “surgical infection prevention. ”This case focuses on three topics are as under:

  • First is the “3M’s approach” to managing “innovation and identifying market demands”.
  • Second is an in-depth discussion of the “Lead User technique” and it’s possible in the “medical industry”.
  • And third is “the managerial obstacles” of implementing fresh methods into a “successful company”.

Situation Analysis

1) Recommendation for the “Medical-Surgical Lead User Team”

I have to recommend the “three new product concepts” for the “medical-surgical lead user team ”because this recommendation is less risky. The Three new product concepts are discussed in below:

  • “The Economy Line”.
  • “The Skin Doctor Line”.
  • “Antimicrobial (Armor) Line”.

“The Economy Line”

The “Medical-Surgical Market Division” might consider creating a line of surgical drapes composed of several “low-cost textiles.” Existing 3M adhesives and fasteners can cling to the body in a variety of ways. A “one-size-fits-all strategy” and “timesaving dispensing methods” will improve product acceptance in the “current cost-containment” context, particularly in developing nations. (The motivation for this product line came from divisional fact-finding missions to poor countries.) Following the lead user’s instructions, these materials should allow the surgeon to focus entirely on the body part being operated on. Because it’s based on current 3M technology, it’s a step-by-step approach.

“The Skin Doctor Line”

Antimicrobial protection should be considered by the Medical-Surgical Market Division as hand-held devices that look like hand-held vacuums. Antimicrobial chemicals would be layered on the surfaces being worked on by these machines. Besides the original layering mode, a developed iteration of the “Skin Doctor” may have a vacuum mode that could suck up surface liquids. The Lead User workshop sparked this idea. This is also an incremental idea because it is based on 3M technologies that already exist.

“Antimicrobial (Armor) Line”

3M is currently entirely focused on “surface infections”, disregarding other infection control areas including “blood-borne, urinary tract, and respiratory disorders”. 3M technology would be used to “armor” catheters and tubes against unwanted microscopic guests in an armor product line. This line would be a game-changer since it would not only complement the company’s current reactive infection management strategy, but it would also allow it to enter a new $2 billion market.

2) Convince with senior management to adopt the Recommendation

3M’s aim is to develop a pool of “practical, creative, and valuable ideas” that are encouraged into possibilities by providing a range of “innovation centers” and “Technical forums”. I persuaded and negotiated with top management to implement the suggestion using the following techniques:

  • Of course, terms like “this recommendation enhances efficiency” or “reduces rework” will pique their attention. However, it also provides figures such as “expected savings of X thousand dollars per year,” e.g. as compared to the current strategy.
  • Prepare to answer the questions like, “What happens if the new tool doesn’t work?” “How long do we have to use it?” and “how much will it cost?” “Can we go back to the old solution if it doesn’t work?”
  • Even before the meeting, you should be prepared to answer these questions. You may have to deal with those who are opposed to change, so be prepared with aggressive and concrete responses. Making any form of a change in a business is difficult. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new recommendation tool or a simple modification in the air conditioner’s temperature setting.


In this situation, Rita and her team should deliver the first three product line suggestions, together with all findings, to top management. Because the firm won’t be able to build a game-changing product in a decade, the first three proposals should be prioritized. Because it applies to revising the healthcare unit’s business plan, the fourth proposal can be offered later once analysis and consensus have been reached. Redefining your objectives, targets, and strategies is part of rewriting your business strategy. It can occasionally lead to the failure of an organization. As a result, the organization may benefit from evaluating the fourth advice. Concerning the fourth recommendation, a brief presentation might be made. It can be done if top management agrees….

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