Partner Organizations and Innovation

Partner Organizations and Innovation

Partner Organizations and Innovation

Innovation is seen as an explicit driver of growth and mission effectiveness in all of the study’s partners. The following is a brief introduction to each study partner and how they view innovation and the role of knowledge in the innovation process.


3M celebrated its 100th year in 2002, touting “A Century of Innovation.” New products are a hallmark of 3M, and it introduces hundreds of products in dozens of sectors each year. 3M’s ability to leverage and combine multiple technologies to create novel solutions to customers’ problems is a key driver for the company’s growth. More than 35 percent of annual sales come from products less than four years old, and 10 percent are from products less than one year old. 3M spends approximately $1.1 billion annually through an R&D organization of about 7,000 people worldwide.

3M defines innovation as the process by which the creative ideas of employees, customers, and suppliers are turned into products that become of value to the company.

The Boeing Company, Rocketdyne Division

The Boeing Company is the world’s No. 1 commercial jet maker, and its global reach includes customers in 145 countries, employees in more than 60 countries, and operations in 26 states. Since the founding of Rocketdyne in 1955, the company (now a division of Boeing) has evolved into a global leader in applied power, from sophisticated aerospace propulsion systems to space-borne electrical power.

The role of innovation in Boeing Rocketdyne is to provide a competitive advantage for existing and future company offerings. One way Boeing Rocketdyne defines innovation is as an advancement in a methodology, practice, process, or concept that improves the product (i.e., hardware or service) or improves cost, time-to-market, and/or quality (e.g., performance, weight, functionality, and life reliability). Evolutionary innovation, rather than disruptive innovation, is the norm for Boeing Rocketdyne’s R&D function.

Millennium Pharmaceuticals

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Millennium Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of small molecule “biotherapeutics” and predictive medicine products. Millennium focuses on four major treatment targets: oncology, metabolic diseases, cardiovascular conditions, and inflammation.

Innovation is the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry, and Millennium’s management believes that KM and knowledge sharing help to drive innovation and new products to market faster. Millennium’s reason for managing knowledge is to give researchers, scientists, and all personnel access to new data and enable them to discover links among molecules, drug targets, and markets.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories

NASA, the aerospace and exploration agency for the United States, has been focused on innovation since its founding. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), managed by the California Institute of Technology, is NASA’s leading center for robotic exploration of the solar system. JPL also manages the worldwide deep space network, which communicates with spacecraft and conducts scientific investigations from its complexes in California’s Mojave Desert; near Goldstone in Spain; and in Australia. JPL’s cameras and sensors are aboard satellites circling Earth to study the ozone, oceans, and other earth sciences.

JPL defines innovation as the process by which an entity (i.e., a person or a team) is able to locate and use shared knowledge and create new knowledge for the purpose of stimulating the development of innovative solutions. Innovative solutions are solutions that represent creative ideas (i.e., novel and useful) that are implemented[1].

The World Bank

The World Bank is the world’s largest provider of development assistance and provides about $20 billion in new loans each year. The World Bank also plays a vital role in coordinating with other organizations—including private, government, and multilateral—to ensure that resources are used to their full effect in supporting a country’s development agenda.

Innovation and reuse of knowledge are one way the World Bank addresses the needs of its constituents. The World Bank’s clients need more than money; they need expertise, advice, and a forum to create innovative solutions. When faced with massive undertakings, such as the rebuilding of Afghanistan or clean water in underdeveloped countries, the World Bank must be able to find, reuse, and adapt experiences and expertise from around the world, as well as provide clients and experts a way to connect with each other so they can pool their knowledge and invent new solutions to new challenges.

[1]Majchrzak, Ann, Lynne P. Cooper, and Olivia E. Neece. Knowledge Reuse in the Radical Innovation Process at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. White paper, March 11, 2002.

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