3M design head on how design spurs innovation, enhances brand experiences


Kevin Gilboe, Head of Design, 3M Asia Pacific, outlines how design creates value for every company by bringing innovation to life and ensuring meaningful brand experiences. 

3M, a company that has been known for its innovation, is using design to enrich innovation and build meaningful brand experiences. Speaking at the recently-concluded TechSparks 2018 event, the flagship annual event of YourStory, Kevin Gilboe, Head of Design, 3M Asia Pacific, said the 3M Design Mission, which was launched five years ago, aims to create value through design.

Gilboe believes the best work comes from collaborative creativity across disciplines. He said,

"The next big idea will come naturally from a creative collision of many smaller ideas that build upon each other. This is what design thinking is all about."

Integrating diverse perspectives means that the outcome is not just about reaching the finish line, but about ensuring the meaningful achievement of purpose, Gilboe said.

3M, formerly Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, has a jaw-dropping number of over 113,000 patents to its credit. These patents are across a range of products, including adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products, car care products, electronic circuits and optical films.

“What are we doing that keeps us vibrant over the years? We have a “PhD level” of scientific intervention going on - interaction of multiple technology solutions to bring durable solutions,” said Gilboe.

The founder’s original plan was to sell mineral corundum to manufacturers in the East to make grinding wheels. This was met by repeated failure and huge losses, but 3M continued to innovate and did not lose hope. The company’s latest innovations include waterproof sandpaper and masking tape, as well as cellophane "Scotch Tape" and sound deadening materials for cars.

The merits of collaborative creativity

Today, 3M views design as crucial for ensuring value. Through collaborative creativity, the 3M Design Mission team designs meaningful brand experience and enriches innovation.  

Through creative capability, the team fuels growth by providing services such as advanced design, brand experience, design colour, finish, materials graphic/visual design, design management, design trends, identifying design interaction, sound design, and user experience (UX).

“Design enriches innovation and builds powerful brand experiences,” Gilboe said.

Kevin believes designing a product does not only involve ensuring that it is the most stylish and beautiful. In fact, he belives there is an "elevated role of design in the enterprise."

According to him, the five principles to inspiring change through design intervention are:

  1. Space matters: Gilboe highlighted the need to get out of the comfort zone. He advocated investing in creating energy and “promote showing versus telling.”
  2. Change is personal: Every company is on a unique path, Gilboe said. "We need to create ambassadors and build bridges to reach the customers. Talent development equals value creation,” he added.
  3. Architects of the future: Make a prototype to provoke and translate vision to strategy, Gilboe said.
  4. Bring the outside in: Bring the customer journey to life while making tools for thought leadership and learn by doing.
  5. Speak the language of design: Design is qualitative. “Great design doesn't happen when nobody is talking about it. Words create culture,” he added.

YourStory's annual extravaganza TechSparks brings together the best and the brightest from the startup ecosystem, corporate world, policy makers, and of course, the investor community. Over the years, it has grown to become India's most loved tech and startup platform for knowledge sharing and networking. The ninth edition of TechSparks also marks YourStory's 10th anniversary. A big thank you for all your support over the years and keep reading and watching YourStory.


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