Bryan H. Wintermantel
September 29, 2014
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) is a Fortune 500 company that continues to grow in a very versatile technology industry. 3M was founded in Two Harbors, Minnesota in 1902. The manufacturing of more than 50,000 products puts 3M in a variety of different markets. Being part of a very diverse industry 3M’s area of concentration is in Consumer and Office, Display and Graphics, Electronics and Communications, Health Care, Industrial and Transportation Safety, Security and Protection services. Some of the companies well known products include: Sandpaper, Scotch tape, and the engineering blunder of the Post-it Notes. 3M’s positive organizational culture has led it to become one of the country’s most highly respected corporation.
The Culture of 3M provides a map to the success of the company. The importance of “initiative leads to innovation” is one of 3M’s main focuses to the success of their company. “The company’s unique management style demands that employees be creative and take risks” (Craft & Quick, 1999, p.9). In order to become an innovative and creative, 3M requires new employees to participate in a risk taking class. These classes are designed to help employees think outside of the box. Providing risk taking classes will allow employees the opportunity to experiment with new innovative tools and methods. The idea that employees receive from these risk taking classes will allow them to be creative in an effective way. To help with innovative ideas 3M has implemented a fifteen percent rule which allows employees the opportunity to develop and create new ideas in a non-structured environment. “Some of 3M’s most successful inventions came from creating new products based on technologies that failed their original purpose”(Craft & Quick, 1999, p.5). “One such invention was Post-It Notes, the notepad that made use of an adhesive that would not stick” (Craft & Quick, 1999, p.5). Another important part of 3M’s culture and another reason for their success is the power given to their employees. “3M also encourages individuals to challenge and question authority. This is reflected in the high circulation of stories about frontline workers who stuck with projects despite adverse reactions from their supervisors’ and who went on to produce highly successful products” (Gloud, 1999, p.40).
According to Robbins and Judge (2011), “a strong culture should reduce employee turnover, because it demonstrates high agreement about what the organization represents” (Chapter 16, Strong Versus Weak Cultures). The turnover rate for 3M is below three percent because the company cares for the health and wellbeing of their employees. That is evident in the Companies new health program called “LifeScapes”, which is designed to reduce the number of illnesses, accidents, and stress. Organizations that are empathic to their employees promote job satisfaction which leads to high morale and low turnover in the work place. Developing high morale with any organization will create stability among departments.
In the workplace we have become accustomed to setting aside our values and cultures for the good of the organization. However, it is impossible to completely mask cultures and beliefs. Everyone has developed their own set of core beliefs and values that shape their personality. Values are taught and modeled throughout our lives. Understanding your colleagues’ values will help build strong relationships in the workplace. It is easier to communicate with colleagues that you trust, because relationships that lack trust are weak and communication will be limited or superficial.
Culture defines our character and beliefs. Without culture incorporated into the workplace, everything would be vanilla. Culture brings new ideas and