I had the good fortune to spend time recently at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’ll have more to say about 3M in subsequent posts, but what is most striking is that this 100-year-old firm has managed to avoid the pitfalls that harm many established firms that rely too much on legacy assets and fail to push innovation fast and far enough. 3M’s secret is empowering their scientists, engineers and marketing talent to be entrepreneurs from within. Failure is tolerated, even expected, as part of the innovation process. It was very much in keeping with Brian Carney’s tremendous new book Freedom, Inc., in which Carney argues that successful firms can free their employees and allow them to chart the way to greater productivity and profits.
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