Answers to the 3M Business Case published by Harvard Business school.

Essay by wizard3University, Master'sA+, July 2003

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Summary: Keeping the "pace" of innovation is a primary objective to 3M managers and the success of Computer Privacy Screen project, by itself, is irrelevant in the scope of maintaining such entrepreneurial flow. Assuming this project fits into the desired "pace" of innovation, Guehler should approve it; Wong should support it unconditionally.

Intrapreneurship at 3M: With a requirement that divisions derive 30% of sales from products introduced within the last four years, the "15% rule," and a heavy R&D budget (6-7% of sales) to back it up; 3M is serious about innovation. The organizational requirements for such corporate renewal are demanding and management plays a significant role in encouraging intrapreneurship. Because products belong to divisions and technology belongs to the company, 3M is able to continually innovate on new products by utilizing existing technologies. It is important for divisions to focus on differentiated products and defensible product-market positions. The combination of "innovation-based entrepreneurship" and "well-intentioned failure," means that building on existing technologies from different perspectives is crucial to success.

Andy Wong: his role as a front-line manager/entrepreneur, is to promote the ideas of his group, a lack of support could be harmful to the motivation of the group and ultimately to the crucial flow of new ideas. There is only one option acceptable to Wong in handling the AFE: approve it, even if Guehler ultimately overrules his decision.

Paul Guehler: As a middle-level manager he must objectively consider if this project meets the appropriate criteria outlined by executive management. The basis of "the 15% rule" relies on individuals to take an existing technology and find a new use for it that others are not seeing (new perspective). He must be careful not to associate the past failures of the OS unit with the privacy screen project, remember this project...