Innovation Development Insight from 3M Part II

I want to follow up on what I said yesterday.  I noted that 3M encourages wandering around, and I can add they even have walkways just for that.

However, today I want to add that they also rotate people from one project to another every 4 to 6 years. This cross pollinating is another part of their innovation culture.  We can think how to rotate people to cross pollinate in our own organizations.

I was a US Army officer before leaving to enter the business world 20 some years ago.  The Army also rotated people. I worked for 18 months as the Fire Support Officer leading men who were they eys of the artillery for 1-7 FA, 10th Mountain Divsion.  I then got assigned for 1 year as the Support Platoon Leader providing beans and bullets to a 450 person artillery unit. Then I operationally developed a Finance Unit all in three years. Then I would to to come place completely new. What I did for each of those units and people in them was long lasting as it was hard hitting?  Perhaps that is why I consult now?

I left the Army and came to China instead.  The value of the rotating system  in the Army was we would bring high energy to each new assignment and reach peak about 6 months on and star to lower energy by 18 months in as the low hanging fruit we could pick had been taken.  Perhaps that is why I am a consultant today.

At West Point where I went to school, the instructors were Army Officers on 3-4 year assignment.  On the whole, they were fabulous and still are. They are high energy professionals trying to make their mark in 3-4 years and then go back to the regular Army.  It causes me to wonder what value tenure has to the public. We had a few long term people in each department for some continuity, but the new ideas and new energy method is powerful.

Companies are always looking for experts with 5 years experience in so and so.   I never had that at West Point and it is a great school.

At 3M, they move you after 5 years.  This may be why 3M is so alive.

How can you apply this where you are to reinivigorate your business?

Social Sharing

Posted in: Culture Development, Leadership, Motivating Workers, System, Team Development

Leave a Comment (0) ↓

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.