3m in India

Case 2: 3M India: In India for India

  1. How has 3M built structural and contextual ambidexterity into the organization? How do the various elements of the system support innovation at 3M?

3M is today’s one of the most innovative organization in the world. 3M was founded by a doctor, a lawyer, two railroad executives and a meat-market manager in a small town called Two Harbors in Minnesota in the year of 1902. The organization’s 45 technology platforms that form the foundation for 3M products develop more than 50,000 products that met unique needs in the market. The company’s various characteristics such as the philosophy of decentralization, tolerance for failure and et cetera enabled the company’s success. Likewise, the various elements of the system supported to innovation at 3M.

The first element is the unique ‘structure’ of the organization. The organization structure at 3M had evolved in such way to support innovation. The three elements of the structure were the following: small size of each business or administrative unit, research and development laboratories with each business division and organizational roles to support innovation. With diversity of products and technologies, it was difficult to manage the operations. Thus, when a product group was to thrive and reached significant sales, it would be separated as a new division. The divisions were kept small because the bigger the organization the more centralized and bureaucratic it will turn which then will hinder innovation. Furthermore, the divisions all had their own research laboratory, production operations and sales force. The goal of the division laboratories was to work on new products and process. Despite the efforts to keep bureaucracy to a minimum, organizational role was essential to support innovation. The executive champion or a ‘mentor’ would protect and nurture the new idea, so idea generators’ efforts won’t be killed so easily.

The second element is the ‘process’. 3M is...