3m's Conundrum of Efficiency and Creativity

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3M is an innovative and creative company that flourished since 1930 with the invention of masking tape and again in the 1950’s with Scotchgard the fabric protector. Then during a glue that was invented that was considered a failure in the 1970’s someone came up with the idea of taking that glue solution and using it on the back of paper to hold the paper to anything. So the invention of the post-it came out and the business really took off. in the 2000 the newly appointed CEO James McNerney implemented the Six Sigma management style. He did this because he felt the company was stale and not growing as much as he felt. This new management style is “designed to identify problems in work processes, and then use rigorous measurement to reduce variation, eliminate defects, and increase efficiency” (Nelson and Quick, 2011-363). The very things that some believe got 3M were they were, McNerney wanted to streamline the company and eliminate the wastefulness. Initially his idea caused a growth of twenty-two percent annually but not for long. McNerney was committed to Six Sigma and imbedded it deeply into 3M until his departure in 2005. Some experts believe that McNerney, by implementing the Six Sigma program into the company stifled the creativity and did not allow for failure or trial and error. This seemed to many a contradiction because the post-it, that brought 3M to forefront, was in fact a glue that originally did not work but because of the latitude afforded in creativity it allowed the engineers to experiment with it for something else.

Issue Addressed
Whether or not Six Sigma is the way to go for 3M? With the 15 percent rule of the Richard McKnight established in the earlier days of the company, creativity and innovation was in abundance. When James NcNerney took over as the CEO, he brought Six Sigma to the company. Six Sigma is the “measure of quality that strives for near perfection” (Nelson and Quick, 2011-364)...
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