Driving innovation

Authors Collins and Porras (1995) summarise their findings from 3M and provide 5 key innovation drivers for any business.

Give it a try – and quick!

Have a process that allows you to try out a lot of things, and keep what really works. The key here is to do something. Keep on trying something new.

Accept that mistakes will be made

Learn from the mistakes, and move on. Failures are part and parcel of what creates new innovation. Don't repeat the same mistakes.

Take small steps

Experiment, but on a small scale. When something looks promising, seize the opportunity. This way you do plenty of inexpensive experiments that create a funnel of would-be innovations.

Give people the room they need

Without entrepreneurs, there is no experimentation. Without experimentation there is no success or failure. People need some time, incentives, job security and room to experiment.

Mechanisms – build that ticking clock!

How do you harness creativity and build innovation? It cannot happen simply by chance. Businesses need to create practices and tangible mechanisms to try out new ideas and innovate.

Building an innovation strategy will enable these drivers of innovation to be achieved and will put you on the path to becoming an innovative organisation like 3M.


Collins, JC, and Porras, JI, 1995, Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies. London: Century.