Today the US Embassy hosted our second “Businessman Statesman Lunch Series.” The formulation “Businessman Statesman” refers to businesspeople who advance the public interest by constructively engaging in the market place of ideas and operating as a good corporate leader. A Businessman Statesman understands the overlay between the commercial context and the strategic context. The Obama Administration is working to maximize the potential of collaboration with business leaders to address the challenges of our times.
The US Embassy’s first Businessman Statesman, Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE and former Chairman of the White House’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, addressed a luncheon in his honor last May on the topic of the proposed US-EU Free Trade Agreement, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. See a YouTube interview I did with Jeff Immelt immediately following that lunch.
Our second Businessman Statesman, Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M Corporation, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a leader who fully personifies that concept. Inge has been a 3M employee for 34 years and is a visionary in innovation. 3M’s new Innovation Center just of the E4 outside of Stockholm in Sollentuna is one of more than 50 3M innovation Centers around the world. Over the next several years, an even greater percentage of 3M’s revenue will be devoted to research and development, with an increase of $30 million anticipated between now and 2017 alone.
Innovation is not just about technology development. It’s about improving the human condition. It’s about looking not just at the bottom line, but on how to advance sustainability and job creation. Last year, a cover of the Economist magazine asked “what can the world learn from the Nordics?” Innovation is certainly part of the answer to that question.
Inge shared his experience and perspectives with a remarkable group of business people who we assembled, from a variety of industries. He discussed how one fosters the entrepreneurial culture you find in a start-up in a large multi-national corporation. He described how innovation is fostered in different regions of the world, and he explained 3M’s initiative called “Customer Inspired Innovation”, and how 3M intends to deploy its increase in R&D spending to 6 % of revenue. He also shared insights in to his leadership style, and how that fits in the modern paradigm of changing leadership styles.
Congratulations to Inge Thulin, Chairman of 3M Corporation, on being the US Embassy’s second Businessman Statesman. Thank you for sharing your vision on innovation with us today!