Bacon + Eggs : 3M Innovation + Design

Just before heading into a budget meeting, Kevin Gilboe, Head of Global Design at 3M, gave me a few minutes to talk about his perspective on the relationship between innovation and design.

Capsule has noticed the addition of design to the 3M equations for success in the last five years or so. It’s been interesting to hear perspectives from other parts of the organization and from Kevin on how the journey is progressing inside 3M.

3M is relevant in this story of innovation and design because just over two decades ago this 111 year-old company sought out to own the word “Innovation” and to the envy of many in the brand, business and creative community, they were highly successful in the endeavor. We believe this because the word fit the culture already pulsing through the halls, offices and labs of 3M.

But, the discipline missing from the equation was always Design.

Kevin Gilboe and his eclectic team of designers, artists, and creatives are the eggs to the delicious bacon already part of the 3M diet of successful new product development. We all know, bacon is tempting all by itself and the now famous phrase never uttered, “can someone please eat my last piece of bacon” only confirms the cultural delight in bacon, as it is with the word Innovation. Add eggs to the equation and you have the start of a breakfast and perhaps a smart morning.

As Kevin put it, “you pull together engineering and marketing, and with enough time you can put out a product that can solve a problem and make money. Add design to the equation and you add craftsmanship, perfection in details, and a cultural relevance to help a product achieve greater purpose.” In other words, you can have bacon alone, but once you’ve had it with eggs, toast and the rest of the meal, bacon is kind of lonely without the surrounding meal.

We are also proud to see 3M taking on design. It unexpected for the locals who know the depth and strength of the 3M business. As consumers of 3M brands, designs and innovations, we are happy to consume better design from our local hero. It is something many of us had not expected and just as Kevin’s team looks at the world through curious, skeptic eyes our design community does as well.

Thus far the new equation is: 3M Innovation + Design = Beautiful new opportunities.

Kevin states it best in the quote below.

“Design brings innovation to life with arresting beauty, captivating stories, and exceptional attention to detail. We search for unexpected solutions that create passion: stepping beyond function toward the iconic. It’s about innovation worthy of love.”
— Kevin Gilboe

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
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