UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY Faculty of Business & Management: School of Business Administration Management of Innovation Technology CASE #2 “Innovation at 3M” Name: Ronald McLeod (0908851) Tutor: Mr. S. Whittle 3M Corporation takes pride in being a culture of innovation. I will be reporting on just one of 3M’s many innovative products the post-it notes. I will also highlight the market pull and technology push factors that were considered in developing the innovation. The key terms to be identified in this report are innovation, technology push, and market pull.
Innovation refers both to the output and the process of arriving at a technically feasible solution to a problem triggered by a technological opportunity or customer need. Technology push describes a situation where an emerging technology or a new combination of existing technologies provide the driving force for an innovative product and problem solution in the market place. Market pull is the advancement of technology oriented primarily toward a specific market need. Post-it notes are pieces of stationery with a re-usable adhesive strip on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces.
The release of post-it notes in 1980 in the United States was one that was not only innovative for its time but one which captured the needs of consumers in a whole new way. Post-it note became a big success for 3M and was adored by customers. The first and probably most important technology push that resulted in post-it notes is senior scientist Spencer Silver’s 1968 discovery of an adhesive that didn’t act like any others. Instead of forming a film, it is a clear, reusable and pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his invention within 3M, both informally and through seminars, but without much success.
In 1974 Art fry perceived the idea of coating the adhesive on paper. He soon realized that this technology would serve well as a note pad. 3M conducted a direct-mail program to the secretaries of CEOs of Fortune 100 companies, and got back letters from CEO’s of companies such as Chrysler and Phillip Morris telling them how much they loved this product (Post-it notes) and asking how they could get more. This was a major market pull factor as 3M now realized that this advancement in technology would satisfy a specific market need. Fry encountered serious technical problems very early.
First, there was the problem of getting the adhesive to stay in place on the note instead of transferring to other surfaces. The company didn’t have coating equipment that could be precise on an imprecise backing such as paper. This resulted in further technology push as advances in the technical performance of 3M allowed for the post-it notes adhesive to be perfected as well as a manufacturing process was developed. Fry made sure that secretaries of 3M senior executives got them. Before long, their bosses were borrowing the little yellow pads. This Market pull factor illustrated the need for this innovation in the business place.
In 1978 samples of numerous post-it was given out in the city of Boise. 3M discovered that more than 90 percent of the people who tried them would buy them. This market pull factor showed the general market need for this product. After success in Boise, 3M was convinced that the market potential for the yellow note was enormous and, in 1980, post-it notes were introduced nationally. The Managerial Implications * Technical and Market considerations * How to sustain new innovations * Time consumption * How to protect innovation from competitors. Recommendations Managers must take into account during problem solving within a firm, the technical and market factors in order to achieve successful management of technology. * Managers must invest time and money in research and development and other efforts to not only make improvements to commercialized technologies but to continuously endeavor to come out with new technologies/innovations. * Managers must respond to time consumption and shorten the time it takes them to design, develop and put new innovations on the market. They must decide when to innovate, update, or replace previous technology .
They must also develop methods to cope with shorter product life cycles. This can be done through continuous improvement. * Managers must protect new innovations from competitors through the use of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and designs. This will also result in higher profitability for the organization. Conclusion The development of post-it notes was driven both by technological push and market pull factors. These factors resulted in; the recognition of a potential problem, decision of which technologies to use, a feasible solution to the problem, and the final commercialization of the innovation.
Managers must learn to cope with the implications that will face them. References http://www. innovation. lv/ino2/publications/leonardo_manual/en/www. innosupport. net/webhelp/wso/ind http://multimedia. 3m. com/mws/mediawebserver? 77777XxamfIVO&Wwo_Pw5_W7HYxTHfxajYv7HYv7H777777– ex. [email protected]_id4240pl_id3558. htm http://www. tu-harburg. de/tim/downloads/arbeitspapiere/Working_Paper_5. pdf http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Post-it_note http://www. 3m. com/us/about3M/innovation/archive. html