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Competitive Strategy and Innovation

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Competitive Strategy and Innovation Innovation: Post-it(r) Note Innovation Innovation, as it applies to business enterprises, is the "production, diffusion and translation of technical knowledge into (commercially viable) new products and new production methods". Farina and Preissl (1999) It is a new way of doing things that is commercialised. The process of innovation cannot be separated from a firm to strategic and competitive market. (Porter 1990). Innovation is the use of new technology to offer a new product or service that customers want. It is intervention and commercialisation. (Freeman 1988). This report will identify an innovation, analyse the development of that innovation and then apply appropriate theory to it in order to classify it. The innovation will then be evaluated by the contribution it gave towards the strategy of the organisation and its development over time. Development of the Post-it(r) Note Smith (2006) developed a model of the innovation process which consists of seven key stages; Stage 1: Insight Stage 2: Development Stage 3: Design Stage 4: Product Engineering Stage 5: Pilot Testing Stage 6: Full-scale Manufacturing Stage 7: Market Launch During the mid-1960's, 3M was conducting a four-year program called 'Polymers for Adhesives' and it was then in 1968 that Mr. Silver discovered the formula for the sticky adhesive. Mr Silver, one of the chemists became interested in a new family of polymers developed by Archer Daniels Midland, Inc. (ADM). Silver acquired the polymers and performed an experiment which mixed unusually and created a totally unique phenomenon, a new polymer that was only partly sticky, not aggressively adhesive. This polymer would ultimately serve as the "tack" on the back of the note which would stick onto other surfaces. ...read more.


The Post-it(r) Note can be classed as a radical innovation because the design of the product was new, the core component i.e. the adhesive was new and the architecture that linked the components together was new. It could be argued that the paper component of the Post-it(r) Note is not new therefore both core components of the innovation are not new. 3M's current strategy is to introduce the Post-it(r) Note to become electronic. This Innovation could be classed as a Radical Innovation as the products core components are new and the link between the core concepts and components are new. Innovation in a theoretical context When analysing an innovation such as the Post-it(r) Note, it is important to apply theory in order to class it as a certain type of innovation. This helps future understanding of the patterns that innovations take in order for it to be successful. There are four common theories of innovation, all which are present in the Post-it(r) Note. The first theory is technology, which is the 'S curve'; The 'S curve' describes how technology progresses over time on a life cycle from the 'seed' stage to the end of life stage, and which point a new S curve starts - replacing the existing technology in the market. As the diagram illustrates, there is a steep learning curve in the early stage and then as product performance slows down, there is an engineering effort which is usually technology based in order to increase the product performance. The Post-it(r) Note can relate to this theory, however, the scientific discovery of the polymer used on the back of the post-it(r) ...read more.


The Post-it(r) Note changed this strategy as the only method of making consumers recognise the product was to give out free samples. Although the Post-it(r) Note has not changed dramatically since it was first produced and the technology has not progressed, the Post-it(r) Note itself has developed quite significantly. The design of the Post-it(r) Note has changed and now ranges from the original Post-it(r) Notes, to Pop-up(r) Notes, Speciality(r) Notes and Portable(r) Flags. The Post-it(r) Note has encouraged the company to keep innovating time and time again so not to get trapped into thinking that the product cannot be improved. The latest development is the Electronic Post-it(r) Note which is a great innovation, consumers can download it and test it for 30 days free and if they think it is a practical product to have, they can then choose to purchase it. In creating a new innovation to the Post-it(r) Note, 3M have created an opportunity whereby the electronic Post-it(r) Note could be on entire organisation's network of computers, resulting in greater consumer awareness and more sales. 3M's source of competitive advantage is created through their differentiation advantage. When the Post-it(r) Note was introduced there was no other product like it on the market and so it gave consumers something unique. As time has gone on, 3M's strategy can be considered to have changed to cost leadership as other companies started to sell similar products. However, 3M gained through first mover advantage and created brand loyalty and benefits through large economies of scale, which results in a cost leadership strategy. A negative aspect that the Post-it(r) Note brings to 3M could be the fact that the company is emotionally attached to the product and may keep on spending on Research, Design and Development of the product, when the company should be looking at new products to develop. ...read more.

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