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How do you stay innovative?

Listen to your customers.
By Cheryl M. Arcibal |

Listen to your customers. That’s the advice of  innovation leader and Post-it Notes and Scotch Brite manufacturer 3M to entrepreneurs who want to succeed.

Company officials said that at the core of 3M’s business principles is the ability of its employees to understand their customers and come up with solutions for a need.  “It is in the DNA of 3M employees to be able to collaborate with our customers, understand their pain and go back to our laboratory and through technology, provide solution,” said Crispina Amen, manager of Corporate Marketing & Public Affairs of 3M Philippines.

Maureen Chapin, 3M corporate communications manager, Asia Pacific, said listening to customers is the best way to gain insight about your market. “I guess the first thing would be make sure to listen to your customers. The more you can understand the need of customer, the more knowledge you have to go back and [find a solution] for that need,” Chapin told

Chapin disclosed that despite the global economic downturn in 2009, 3M continued to invest in research and development. “Innovation is important. A company has to invest in innovation. One thing about 3M is that while we needed to be careful during the economic downturn, we retained our investment in R&D,” Chapin said.


Of the company’s total sales last year, 6.5 percent were invested in R&D, she added. To further develop innovativeness among its employees, Chapin said that 3M employees are encouraged to go out, observe and find ways to create solutions. “All our forum scientists collaborate with one another regularly,” Amen said.

“We never stopped inventing, we never stopped innovating. We have 45 technology platforms all geared to delivering practical ingenious solutions that help customers succeed,” said Won-Sik Shim, 3M Philippines managing director. Founded in 1902 by five businessmen, 3M was originally set up to mine a mineral deposit for grinding-wheel abrasives in the Lake Superior town of Two Harbors, Minnesota. It was then called the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.

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