Organizational structures and devices 3M uses for entrepreneurial activity

This is a paper that focuses on the organizational structures and devices 3M uses for entrepreneurial activity. The paper also provides further questions to answer from the case study.

Organizational structures and devices 3M uses for entrepreneurial activity

3M has been known for decades as an entrepreneurial company that pursues growth through innovation. It generates a quarter of its annual revenues from products less than five years old. 3M started life as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company back in 1902. Its most successful product – flexible sandpaper – still forms an important part of its product line but this now comprises over 60 000 products that range from adhesive tapes to office supplies, medical supplies and equipment to traffic and safety signs, magnetic tapes and CDs to electrical equipment.

Originally innovation was encouraged informally by the founders, but over more than a century some of these rules have been formalised. But most important of all, there has built up a culture which encourages innovation. And because this culture has created a history of success, it perpetuates itself. 3M started life selling a somewhat inferior quality of sandpaper. The only way they could do this was by getting close to the customer – demonstrating it to the workmen who used it and persuading them to specify the product – an early form of relationship selling. This was the first strategic thrust of the fledgling business – get close to customers and understand their needs.

However, the company was desperate to move away from selling a commodity product and competing primarily on price and its closeness to the customer led it to discover market opportunities that it had the expertise to capitalise on. The first such product was Three-M-IteTM Abrasive – an abrasive cloth using aluminium oxide for durability in place of a natural abrasive.  CASE STUDY CONTINUATION IN THE ATTACHMENT

QUESTIONS

1. Firstly, describe the organisational structures and devices 3M uses to encourage entrepreneurial activity. Why do they work?
2. Secondly, how does 3M distinguish between incremental and fundamental innovations?
3. Thirdly, describe, as best you can from the case, the culture of the organisation. What does this depend upon?
4. Fourthly, why has 3M been such a successful innovator for so long?
5. Can other companies just copy 3M’s structures and culture and become successful innovators also?

6. Please visit 3Ms website for up-to-date information and examples of new innovations: www.3M.com

QUESTIONS
1. Describe the organisational structures and devices 3M uses to encourage entrepreneurial activity. Why do they work?
2. How does 3M distinguish between incremental and fundamental innovations?
3. Describe, as best you can from the case, the culture of the organisation. Also, what does this depend upon?
4. Why has 3M been such a successful innovator for so long?
5. Can other companies just copy 3M’s structures and culture and become successful innovators also?
6. Please visit 3Ms website for up-to-date information and examples of new innovations: www.3M.com

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