3M as a company has existed for over 100 years. During this period, it has established a clear reputation as a major innovator. The company has launched a number of breakthrough products which have established entirely new markets. They have set themselves a consistent stretch goal of attaining 30 percent of sales revenue from products launched within the past four years. The following is a SWOT analysis of the firm and a brief summary of various factors that are in play within it.
There are a number of strengths that the company possesses. To begin, this company has been along for a long period and is an established entity. Most of its products are breakthrough goods and services. Furthermore, it has patents on most of its products. This means that the company has a large market share which limits competition. Patents also prevent rival firms firm imitating its products without paying royalties. The CEOs have always been supportive of innovation. This symbolizes strength in leadership. Their philosophy has always been to ensure creation of conditions that can facilitate innovation from different directions including lucky accidents. There is also a deliberate attempt to avoid placing too much structure in place because it would hinder innovation. Stretch targets enable them to work towards their set goals.
Weaknesses that the company faces arise from various factors. The allocation of slack and permission to play may prove to be counterproductive. If the program goes unguided, employees might spent the time focusing on non-essential things that add no value to the company. Bootlegging whereby employees are given a sense of empowerment can cause lack of cooperation if done too much. This is because if the employees become over empowered, they might have a tendency to listen less to other peoples ideas. The hiring of volunteers without proper vetting might lead to the company spending resources on people who lack the brainpower to carry out various tasks. Such include decision making and critical thinking. Another weakness is that the company only has two core themes in its innovation strategy. Those are; deep technological competence and strong product development capabilities. For a company to be successful focus needs to be placed in more areas. These areas are such as customer feedback, quality control and improvement and comprehensive market research among other areas.
Various opportunities arise from the implementation of some of the companys programs. They allow for parallel routes through their system. This enables the pooling of different ideas. Recognition and reward, reinforcement of core values and sustaining circulation help in building an innovative organization. This boost the morale of the staff. Other methods the company uses to achieve this include patience, acceptance of mistakes and encouragement of risk-taking and allocating slack and permission to play. Using the power of association to bring together teams and other groupings helps to intergrate different ideas. When broad perspectives are encouraged, close links with users are established because the products become user friendly and therefore more successful. The company has a policy of hiring innovators. This ensures that they obtain the best talent for their workforce. As a result, they will be able to come up with more breakthrough products.
Two major threats face the company. Firstly, the sheer scale of the operrations places logistical and financial burden on the firm. This is because more resources are utilized and more staff are required for the operations. This has the potential to cut into its profit margins. Secondly, competiton from other similar firms is a big challenge. Because it is a free market, there is no limit to the number of players in the industry.
It can be concluded that the company has a very aggressive program. This program also has the potential to take the company to much greater heights. However, it should be ensured that the set policies are followed tot the latter. Areas of weakness need to be improved upon and better policies formulated. Lastly, the opportunities should be fully exploited in order to maximize returns.
Gundling, E. (2000). The 3M Way to innovation: balancing people and profit. Kodansha Amer Incorporated.
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