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Corporate Entrepreneurship

Pawe Godek, Ph.D.

Ewelina Sotysiak
Magorzata Zubiel
Piotr Bartenbach
Bartomiej Staszczyk

Creation of entrepreneurial and innovative organization


(3M approach: culture, individual, group)
At the beginning of our work, we would like to answer the question
what is innovativeness? Innovativeness is the process of applying and
developing a new idea to create a new product, process or business. It is
not simply having an idea it is also the work to develop and implement
that idea in the business world. There are various degrees of newness
and therefore different kinds of innovation. Different kinds of innovation
will need different kinds of organization. In our work we would like to focus
on creation of entrepreneurial and innovative organization. In todays
times, firms need to develop an innovating capability. To execute this
capability the firm needs two businesses: an innovating organization to do
something for the first time, operating organization to do activities for the
thousandth time and also the firm needs a leadership to manage the
coexistence of these two antagonistic capabilities. If we talk about
entrepreneurial it really matters in todays business environment. With
nowadays competitive conditions, many executives recognize the need for
more entrepreneurship in theirs organizations and we should also focus on
this while running the business.
3M is a company which is considered to be an organization that is
both entrepreneurial and innovative. It was started by 5 entrepreneurs
who over time changed it into a global powerful venture. The company
was recognized by its vertical structure, with businesses established by
technologies and markets.1 This also contributes to their approach to
culture, because employees experience an effortless flow of information in
the company and this shows that both the employees and employers have
a closer relationships than they would if the structure was horizontal.
Overall, 3M's rules and policies appeal to the following three categories:
culture, individual and group. All of these are connected, however, some of
the policies do not focus on all of the categories.
When talking about the tools that focus on the culture of the
company, we can find that these are the ones that stand out: the 15%
rule, the 30%/4 rule, Carlton society, Dual ladder Career Track, Tolerance
for Failure, Business Units, Technology Forums, and basically all the
awards. The 15% rule states that researchers can spend up to 15 percent
of their time on projects outside their official assignments and thus
stimulates creativity, while the 30%/4 rule and Carlton Society which
are aimed at stimulating new product development. These two rules show
that 3M is a company that gives their employees the freedom to work on
their own experiments and improve while pushing for continuous
development and improvement. This is proven by the dual ladder career
1

3M Corporation handout

track policy as well, which gives the employees an ability to climb up the
career ladder without sacrificing time away from their core strengths. 3M
has a forgiving culture which is proven by the tolerance for failure policy,
while the business units rule shows that the company is actually running
away from decentralization. The last policy mentioned, the technology
forums is a tool focusing on culture of the corporation by allowing all
employees to participate in a periodical meeting during which they discuss
progress on technology projects, this shows that the company is a learning
organization. All of these policies in addition to the awards, appeal to all
individuals and groups in the company, and create the company culture.
Nevertheless, some of the tools focus only on the individuals; these
are the 15% Rule, and dual ladder career track, but also the Carlton
award, as well as both the Pyramid of Excellence Awards and the Quality
Achievement Awards. These policies allow individuals to grow and prosper,
without constantly making the company their focal point. They also show
they will reward those who work hard on their projects, basically stating
that no efforts will be overlooked.
Taking into consideration 3M policies having their impact towards
groups and team play, basically three of them have to be mentioned. Spinoff Development mixed with Tolerance for Failure rule is clearly a powerful
tool in corporation hands and in case of employee cooperation. Not
enough, individuals formed in groups are able to implement their ideas for
product or technology, and form new department dedicated to their case if
they succeed on the market. If their invention will come out as a failure,
they wont be punished, discouraged or negatively influenced by
management. Furthermore, 3M organize and support forums for sharing
knowledge. On such event, scientists from various parts of the world can
meet together and discuss on latest technical innovations or their current
project progress. That kind of meeting creates atmosphere fostering
knowledge sharing between i.e. departments placed in different countries
but also can be a start of new groups willing to undertake innovative
projects.
3Ms selection of tools and methods that stimulates innovation are
proofs of their unique approach of how an innovative company should be
run. However, they would not achieve such good results on the field of
innovation if they did not spend about 6-7% of their revenue. This is an
unusually high amount for a manufacturer, but thanks to that, their
employees can fully take advantage of all the stimulating policies
introduced by the 3M owners. To sum up, 3Ms approach towards running
an innovative company can be an example for other companies. They also
proved that innovation has to be stimulated on many levels and the most
important one is called employees.