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Overcoming the Innovator's Dilema: Transforming Your Own Industry

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Overcoming the Innovator's Dilemma'transforming your own
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
'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
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
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:

Know when to ask for help
Financial acumen

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