This book is dedicated to the thousands of 3M employees who have made 3M a strong, vibrant, growing, diversified technology company with innovative products and services in markets throughout the world.
About the cover: Shortly after the Century of Innovation began, 3M introduced Wetordry sandpaper, shown in the background, giving the company its first entry into the important automotive market. Inventor Francis Okie often scribbled notes on scraps of the sandpaper as he worked. Today, 3M optical films, shown in the foreground, are among the company’s newest products. These innovative films enhance the performance of electronic displays from the smallest hand held devices, such as cell phones, to large liquid crystal display monitors and televisions.
© 2002, 3M Company. All rights reserved. First Edition: 2002 International Standard Book Number ISBN 0-9722302-0-3 (cloth) ISBN 0-9722302-1-1 (paper)
from the CEO . . . It is exciting to celebrate 3M’s first Century of Innovation with the extended 3M family. There are many reasons for 3M’s hundred years of progress: the unique ability to create new-to-the-world product categories, market leadership achieved by serving customers better than anyone else and a global network of unequalled international resources. The primary reason for 3M’s success, however, is the people of 3M. This company has been blessed with generations of imaginative, industrious employees in all parts of the enterprise, all around the world. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating not only a Century of Innovation but also a century of talented and innovative individuals.
W. James McNerney, Jr.
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Contents 1 Early Struggles Plant the Seeds of Innovation
3M opened for business as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing in in the little town of Two Harbors, hoping to capitalize on a mineral used for grinding wheels. Nothing is easy for the optimistic founders, but their persistence pays off and they begin manufacturing sandpaper.
2 3M Innovation—A ‘Tolerance for Tinkerers’
3M welcomes innovative people who are creative, committed and often eccentric. The “architects” of innovation, Richard Carlton, Dick Drew and Francis Okie, create a climate that turns 3M into a new product powerhouse. Researchers explain valuable lab lessons and provide a glimpse into the fabled, highly productive Pro-Fab Lab.
3 3M Innovation—How It Flourished
Sustaining innovation in a growing company is a massive challenge. 3M walks the innovation “high wire” and invests mightily in Research and Development. 3M people share ideas and solve customer problems across oceans and continents. The highest potential product ideas attract company champions and are rewarded with additional capital.
4 Ingenuity Leads to Breakthroughs
The most important innovations respond to unarticulated needs. 3M calls work in this arena “the fuzzy front-end,” and it can lead to significant breakthroughs. That’s what happens in nonwovens, fluorochemicals, optical lighting film and microreplication—technologies that spawn a wide array of products and new “technology platforms” for 3M.
5 No One Succeeds Alone
While 3M people must take personal initiative to build rewarding careers, they are rarely “lone rangers.” 3M people naturally gravitate toward being champions, sponsors and mentors even before these were popular business buzzwords.
6 No Risk, No Reward—‘Patient Money’
For most of the century, 3M demonstrates its bias toward growth through diversification. Follow three business ventures where long-term investments, known as “patient money,” pay off in multiples. These include: reflective technology; 3M Health Care, which today has more than , products; and 3M Pha