Is Innovation Systemic

Student Number:
Date: 22 May 2010
Module 1, Project 3


What does the word systemic mean? My definition of systemic is something that affects the whole system or the entire body. To answer the related question “is innovation systemic?” I would say yes, innovation is systemic as it would affect the entire group or company and it would take it to the next level. In my essay I would like to discuss how new ideas and breakthrough moments led to a systemic change in leading companies.
For my essay I would like to use the company 3M, formally known as Minnesota Mining Manufactures. The reason why I chose 3M is that the company started as a mining company and is now a leading multinational conglomerate which manufactures products from masking tape to traffic lights to pharmaceuticals.  
3M was founded in 1902 by Henry S. Bryan, Herman W. Cable, John Dwan, William A. McGonagle, and Dr. J. Danley Budd. The original plan was to sell natural mineral called corundum, a rock forming mineral, to manufactures for grinding wheels. This plan did not work out well as they later found that they were selling worthless rock. The founders then decided to manufacture sand paper, although they struggled with quality control due to poor raw materials, management looked at importing raw materials to create a better brand. The first phase of research and development came in the 1920’s when the material which was imported needed to be boiled in order to strengthen the product. The management of the company always placed an emphasis on innovation and new products, only after twelve years did the company produce their exclusive product called Three-M-ite cloth.
“3M technical employees are encouraged to devote up to 15 percent of their working hours to independent projects.”(McnerNey, 2002: 21). 3M was the first company to manufacture products such as waterproof sand paper and masking tape. The new ideas and...