Jim Collins has created a blue print for evolutionary progress based on analysing 3M. These five steps are:

  • Give it a try and make it quick– When in doubt, vary, change, solve the problem, cease the opportunity, experiment, try something new even if you can’t predict precisely how things will turn out. No matter what don’t sit still.
  • Accept that mistakes will be made. Since you can’t tell ahead of time, which variations will prove to be favourable, you have to accept to accept failures as an evolutionary process.
  • Take small steps. It’s easier to tolerate failed experiments when they are just that. Experiments, not massive corporate failures.
  • Give people the room they need. When you give people a lot of room to act you can’t predict precisely what they will do, and this can be beneficial. 3M give their staff 15% of discretionary time to play around with ideas. The post it note was developed this way.
  • Mechanisms/build that ticking clock. 3M ideology creates an environment where innovation was cut loose. 3M does not just throw a bunch of smart people in a pot and hope that something will happen. 3M lights a hot fire under the pot and stirs vigorously.

You will enjoy reading Jim Collins and Jerry Porras “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” Harper Business 1994

You may wish also to read an extract from my Winning Leadership Whitepaper, this paper can be purchased from my website.