Overcoming the Innovator’s Dilemma—transforming your own industry
Heather Webb, 3M Healthcare
3M has 46 business platforms. [RE1] Business units can use these platforms to “pull together unique solutions,” says Webb.
“I like to think of these as a chef making omelets from an omelet station, choosing from Applications and Technologies.”
The area explored in the presentation is the Central Sterile Supply Department (CSSD), which is where medical equipment is decontaminated, sterilized, packaged, and stored.
3M is the leader in sterile processing monitoring. From tape that changes color to chemical indicators that show time and temperature to the biological indicator, 3M has developed the tools that define sterilization monitoring.
“As the leader, we knew it was time to disrupt ourselves—to find such new products as a biological indicator as it gives a faster indication. If we didn’t, someone else would develop it. So, we took the concept to leadership and fought hard,” she adds. “We saw this possibility of disruption, heard rumblings of competitors developing faster indicators.”
First, the team went out into the field and listened to customers. Overwhelmingly, they were satisfied with the current offering. So, the team had to learn the holistic nature of their customers’ jobs to see how they work. “The question was, how can we add value to their job? The insight was that if we could reduce the process from three hours to one hour, it would be a value-added win.”
“At 3M we have a three-phone call rule, where someone can help me with a technical solution.” This asset was helpful.
Advice for overcoming the dilemma:
Planning: The process of planning is important, but a plan is useless. Planning gets everyone on board. Advice: be fluid and communicate.
Teamwork: Teamwork “equals friendship.” Build a strong team dynamic.
Financial acumen: Financials are a team matter. Everyone should understand the financial implications of every choice.
Vision: “Vision is the most important factor.” Your team must have a vision of how your customer is going to use your product. If you cannot see it, go see your customer more. Vision serves as a guidepost.
Triple constraint in Project Management: Remember, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes, you get what you need.”
We manufactured two indictors and challenge packs, and it was a commercialization success. The team reduced the actual time from 3 hours to thirty minutes.
What made the project a success: intimacy with customers, knowing what customers most wanted (time saved, usability, tethering to standards), and the technical team’s belief that the problem could be solved. Also, the products fit into our existing go-to-market strategy. Enrolling the business and the marketing teams meant that we got the help we need to complete and launch the new products swiftly and effectively.
Seven key to success in summary:· Communication
· Know when to ask for help
· Financial acumen