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Case Studies » Featured Case Studies » Case Studies » 3M: Innovation, ideas and solutions for a modern world - Introduction

3M: Innovation, ideas and solutions for a modern world - Introduction


3M is a global diversified materials science company and a powerful, diverse and integrated enterprise. Although 3M identifies its core competency simply as “applying coatings to backings”, the company’s operations extend far beyond this. 3M, famous for its consumer brands such as Scotch® Tape and Post-it® Notes, also creates thousands of industrial products used by manufacturers and service providers to create their own products.

From its beginnings in 1902 as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, 3M has grown to achieve sales revenue of $US25.3 billion and an operating income of $US3.5 billion in 2008. The company has over 79,000 employees with approximately 13 percent employed directly as technical staff. As a truly global presence, 3M services almost 200 national markets, and operates subsidiary companies, such as 3M Australia, in more than 60 countries. Almost 64 percent of 3M’s entire sales revenue originates from international operationsWith a vision “to be the most innovative enterprise and preferred supplier in the markets we serve”, 3M prides itself on its history of innovation – reinforced through its brand promise, “practical and ingenious solutions that help customers succeed”. Key values underpinning 3M’s continual success include its commitment to: • Satisfy our customers with superior quality and value • Provide investors with an attractive return through sustained, high quality growth • Respect our social and physical environments • Be a company employees are proud to be part of. 3M has 45 core technology platforms ranging from adhesives, biotechnology and films through to nanotechnology, optoelectronics and wound management. The 60,000 products developed through these technology platforms satisfy consumer needs in six marketfocused businesses.New product development and innovation are the cornerstones of 3M’s continued success. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, innovation is: “The process of introducing new or significantly improved goods or services and/or implementing new or significantly improved processes”. 3M celebrates its long history of innovation by turning innovators into company legends. In 1925, Dick Drew famously visited a customer’s auto production plant and discovered that the growing demand for two-tone cars meant that workers needed a solution to create cleaner paint lines. After some research, and testing, a new product – masking tape – was born. Product development occurs when investment in research and development leads to new and innovative products. This usually involves phases such as idea generation, testing, engineering, prototype creation, commercialisation, manufacturing and marketing. It can take many years for a product to reach the market and product development also represents significant capital investment; hence 3M uses the term, ‘patient money’.

3M adds 500 innovative new products every year to its 60,000+ productline. Many of these products are ground-breaking, newly-invented products, unique in the marketplace and protected by patents.

3M's six businesses

  1. Consumer and Office: Adhesives and wovens such as Scotch® brand, Scotch-Brite®, Post-it ® and more.
  2. Display and Graphics: Films for electronic displays, touch screens, reflective materials for highway safety and more.
  3. Electro and Communications: Electrical tapes, copper and fibre-optic cabling and more.
  4. Health Care: Medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and dental products and more.
  5. Industrial and Transportation: Abrasives, specialty adhesives and tapes, as well as automotive, aerospace and marine industrial products and more.
  6. Safety, Security and Protection Services: Respiratory protection systems, anti-counterfeiting security films, cleaning products and more.


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Associated with:
Learning Area(s):
  • Business Environment | Developing organisational culture
  • Business Environment | Mission and Objectives
  • Business Structure and Organisation | Aligning structure to objectives
  • Business Structure and Organisation | Forms of ownership of large organisations
  • Communication | Effective communication models
  • Communication | Team-based communication
  • Entrepreneurship/Innovation | Fostering innovation within business
  • Entrepreneurship/Innovation | Innovative business
  • Entrepreneurship/Innovation | Product/service innovation
  • Human Resource Management | Employee Motivation
  • Human Resource Management | Performance management
  • Management Skills | Communication
  • Management Skills | Role of leadership
  • Management Styles | Effective styles in management situations
  • Marketing | Product development
  • Operations Management | Quality management approaches
From: Edition 6

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