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The primary reason for 3M's success is the people of 3M. This company has been blessed with generations of imaginative, industrious employees in al 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.

Much of 3M's rich culture comes from the principles that former President and Chairman of the Board William L. McKnight set forth. McKnight believed "management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. It's essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow." It is this growth that continues to make 3M a leader in the 21st century. Their achievements are the foundation of a proud past and the bright future of many innovations to come.

The year 1902 held bright promise for five businessmen in Two Harbors, Minnesota. They started Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) to mine what they thought was corundum, a mineral ideal for making sandpaper and grinding wheels. The mineral, however, turned out to be a low-grade anorthosite. Sales of the poor-quality mineral were weak, and the company nearly failed -- but its founders persisted. They persevered by closing the mine, moving to Duluth, Minnesota, and making sandpaper with abrasive minerals purchased from another source. And the rest, as they say, is history.


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Innovation: Breakthrough Thinking at 3M
Rosabeth Moss Kanter / Hardcover - 209 pages / Harper Business - 1997
While many managers still view creativity and originality in the workplace with suspicion and apprehension, some of today's top corporations are parlaying these same traits into notable long-term success.
Creating Breakthroughs at 3M
by Eric Von Hippel (Author), Stefan Thomke (Author), Mary Sonnack (Author) / Download eBook(PDF) 442K, 9 digital pages / Harvard Business School Press (January 14, 2002)

The authors explain the process and how the 3M project team successfully navigated through it. In the end, the team proposed three major new product lines and a change in the division's strategy that has led to the development of breakthrough products.
Strategic Stories: How 3M Is Rewriting Business Planning
by Gordon Shaw (Author), Robert Brown (Author), Philip Bromiley (Author) / Download eBook(PDF) 405K,  6 digital pages / Harvard Business School Press (January 14, 2002)
When people can locate themselves in the story, their sense of commitment and involvement is enhanced. By conveying a powerful impression of the process of winning, narrative plans can mobilize an entire organization.
The 3M Way to Innovation: Balancing People and Profit ( This title is out of print. )
by Ernest Gundling / Hardcover - 240 pages (February 2000) / Kodansha International

The official Web site for 3M. This site has lots of COOKIES.
The Innovations
Creating innovative products and services that respond to customer needs has always been a way of life at 3M.

The People
This compilation presents some of the important milestones in 3M's history, based on recollections of those who were major participants in these milestones.
The Timeline
Take a trip through time and learn more about the development of 3M and major events in the company's history.
The History
From the 1902 Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company through todays (3M) .

William L. McKnight Management Principles Created 3M's Corporate Culture

William L. McKnight joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company in 1907 as an assistant bookkeeper. He quickly rose through the company, becoming president in 1929 and chairman of the board in 1949. Many believe McKnight's greatest contribution was as a business philosopher, since he created a corporate culture that encourages employee initiative, innovation and provides secure employment.

His basic rule of management was laid out in 1948: "As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.

"Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.

"Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it's essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.


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Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised July, 2004.
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