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Corning’s innovative ‘Gorilla’ process

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By 2007, some cell phone makers realized they needed stronger, scratch-resistant screens for their gadgets.

A team within the specialty materials division of Corning Inc. saw opportunity in an old formula for a superstrong but flexible glass—a material dubbed “Gorilla.”

To test and market the innovative material meant shifting resources to the project.

At Corning, the researchers whose projects were put on hold were simply moved to the new programs.

Because they trusted their teams would be safe, project managers were forthcoming with information about their projects’ lack of market demand, technology flaws or steep investment costs. And that information helped the company determine how to best allocate resources.

Corning brought Gorilla to market and now sells at an annual rate of $100 million for Corning, whose sales in 2009 totaled $5.4 billion.

— Adapted from “Five Gates to Innovation,” William J. Holstein, strategy+business.

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