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G100 Network Notebook | May 2016

How 3M Thinks About Innovation

One-third of all 3M products, responsible for $10 billion out of $32 billion in revenue, did not exist five years ago, an astonishing fact that demonstrates the diversified manufacturer’s commitment to innovation. CEO Inge Thulin elaborates in a video interview about 3M’s new $150 million R&D lab, noting how outside-in thinking helped him as a new CEO craft a long-term vision around sustainability. He says:

When I became CEO, I called and talked to 45 sitting CEOs, asking them for five things they would do differently if they took the job again.

Finding the Value in Big Data

BuzzFeed turned heads recently with a critical look at Palantir, the secretive data-mining startup that provides insights to Fortune 500 and national security clients. Confidential information suggested one of the biggest “unicorns” struggled to retain top talent and clients. A direct response on Quora from Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, who spoke at our Silicon Valley meeting, dismisses much of the report as bias:

Palantir has continued to have a lot of big wins and grow quickly, and simultaneously done a lot of pro bono good for the world that it doesn’t get that much credit for because of its media shy stance, whether it be eliminating slavery in supply chains, various disaster relief, or the refugee work in Syria to name just a few of many. To nod at this by quoting [CEO] Karp that many important customers pay “zero dollars” without giving this context is frankly just bad journalism.

What is Next for 3D Printing?

3D printing will grow from a $7 billion industry today to a $21 billion industry by 2020, with most expansion in the automotive, consumer technology, and medical device sectors, according to a new white paper from UPS and Consumer Technology Association. Computerworld quotes the research:

This is a market ripe for disruption. Technology adopters that move beyond prototyping to use 3D printing in supporting and streamlining production can achieve new manufacturing efficiencies. Plus, there is an enormous opportunity for companies that get it right.

A new partnership between UPS and SAP offers a glimpse of how on-demand, distributed production – dubbed the “Shutterfly of Manufacturing” – will work. An excerpt from Fortune:

The [integrated SAP] system will see from an incoming order if the desired part is 3D-ready and if so whether it makes more sense to print it on demand or, if the part is available somewhere, to pull it from stock. It would also calculate costs and tax implications of either option.

How can CEOs Harness the Energy of Teams?

With four approaches, according to a study of current and former CEOs by Boston Consulting Group. It found leaders often focus on the sources to create or manage energy, instead of tapping energy to motivate positive change. The findings offer leaders insight to a “critical but misunderstood topic.” From the study co-authored by G100 Special Advisor Eva Sage-Gavin:

The energy that fuels [high-performance] starts at the top and travels throughout the organization. The CEO and senior leaders create a spark in their direct reports, who then pass it down the line. Employees are unlikely to go above and beyond the call of duty if their top boss has not established a connection with them.

Board Effectiveness

The blurred line between activist and institutional shareholders creates a new dynamic in board, management, and investor relations. Managing it well requires good governance, says Spencer Stuart research that offers a useful framework for assessing board effectiveness. An excerpt:

Often, it’s not until after a board has experienced a challenge from shareholders — losing a say-on-pay vote, for example — that it concludes it needs to improve communication with shareholders. The most effective boards stay abreast of how the company is perceived by investors. They identify in advance who should take the lead from the board (whether a committee or individual board leader) in dialogue with shareholders.