When Inge Thulin took over as 3M (NYSE:MMM) CEO in 2012 he shifted the conglomerate from pursuing an acquisition growth strategy to focusing on research and development. That's a long-term bet that will take two years or more to even start showing results. 

Two years into Thulin's tenure we can begin to judge the strategy, and so far it looks like R&D is resulting in stronger growth. Organic local currency growth is up from 2.55% in 2012 to 4.03% in the past 12 months. 

That growth separates 3M from conglomerate competitors such as Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), which is growing at a much slower rate.

Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of 3M and Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool recommends 3M and Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.