3m Company Innovation at Its Best

Topics: Post-it note, 3M, Research Pages: 5 (1440 words) Published: March 14, 2011
3M Company (NYSE: MMM), formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul.

With over 76,000 employees, they produce over 55,000 products, including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products electronic circuits and optical films. 3M has operations in more than 60 countries – 29 international companies with manufacturing operations, and 35 with laboratories. 3M products are available for purchase through distributors and retailers in more than 200 countries, and many 3M products are available online directly from the company.

Case questions:
1. Describe the organizational structures and devices 3M uses to encourage entrepreneurial activity. Why do they work?

3M is supported from its headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It has more than 35 business units, organized into six businesses:

* Consumer and Office
* Display and Graphics
* Electro and Communications
* Health Care
* Industrial and Transportation
* Safety, Security and Protection Services

3M operates in more than 65 countries – 35 international companies with manufacturing operations, 35 with laboratories.
* 45 technology platforms, including:
* Adhesives
* Abrasives
* Light Management
* Micro-replication
* Nonwoven Materials
* Nanotechnology
* Surface Modification
* 6,700 researchers worldwide- 3,400 in the United States. * U.S. Patents Awarded – 518

Some of the Devices used by 3M to promote Entrepreneurial Activity and Culture are as follows

* 15 Percent Option: Many employees have the option to spend up to 15 percent of their workweek pursuing individual projects of their own choice. There is no need even to disclose the project to a manager, much less justify it.

* 30 Percent Rule: Thirty percent of business unit revenues must come from products introduced in the last four years. Business unit bonuses are based on how successfully each manager achieves this goal.

* Dual-Ladder Career Path: There are two career ladders: a technical career ladder and a management career ladder. Both allow equal advancement opportunities, thus enabling employees to stay focused on their research and professional interests.

* Seed Capital: Product inventors typically request seed capital from their business unit managers to develop new product ideas. If the manager refuses funding, inventors can take their ideas to any other business unit within 3M. If none of the business units will support the proposal, employees can approach the corporate office for a Genesis Grant. This grant awards employees up to $50,000 to conduct independent research, product development, and test marketing in areas of emerging technology. About 90 such awards are given each year. After securing seed capital, the product “champion” assembles a venture team to develop the product. Members of the venture team are not assigned; the champion must recruit them.

* Tolerance for Failure: If the venture does not succeed, the team members are guaranteed their previous jobs. Company culture emphasizes that a failure can turn into a success; there is no punishment for a product failing in the market. 3M has developed a series of legends around famous failures that have subsequently created breakthrough products, perhaps most notably the weak adhesive that became the foundation for Post-it notes.

* Rewards for Success: As the venture achieves certain revenue goals, the team members receive raises, promotions, and recognition. One such recognition is the Golden Step award. This award is given if a new product is launched and reaches a revenue goal of $2 million in the U.S. or $4 million worldwide. Another recognition is the Carlton award, honoring technical employees who have made...
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