When it comes to innovation, there are a number of ways to incorporate the concept into your own organization. Whether you are using a customer-first mindset to develop new products or allowing your employees to dedicate 15 percent of their time to ideate and explore their own projects, creating an innovative culture that embraces new ideas, if done correctly, can lead to growth­ in your business.

For 3M, a company that applies science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily, innovation is at the forefront of their work. One approach 3M takes is to maintain a strong customer-first mindset in every product created. Many of the organization’s most well-known inventions came to fruition from working one-on-one with customers, resulting in what they define as a “customer-inspired innovation.” The items created from this method of thinking are the result of 3M looking to their customers for feedback on products and services and then creating a solution that not only fixes the problem, but assists others with the same issue.

Take Scotch masking tape for example. Back in the 1920s, a 3M scientist visited a customer’s local auto body shop. He observed workers struggling to make clean lines for two-tone paint jobs. This observation and collaboration with a customer led to the invention of Scotch masking tape, which has proven to be an incredibly useful product for both household and commercial purposes.

Another strategy 3M has taken to enhance innovation is to solve problems customers don’t even realize they have. This proved to be successful when a 3M scientist observed nurses in hospitals constantly tearing off bandages to inspect wounds and IV sites. A simple idea struck the scientist: why not make the bandage transparent? This experience led to a transparent medical dressing, which now allows for painless inspection.

As the world continues to change at rapid pace, it is important to keep innovation in mind. If the concept is new to your organization, consider ways you can create an innovative culture. If you already have an innovation model, commit to reinvigorating it to make your strategy stronger and more competitive. After all, it could pay dividends in the end.

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