3M Science Applied to Life

Written by Nazmi Suraya Bt Ruslan


3M is a diversified technology company serving customers and communities with innovative products and services.  There are five (5) of them and each of the five businesses in Consumer, Electronics and Energy, Health Care, Industrial and Safety and Graphics has earned leading global market positions.

3M is a global innovation company that never stops inventing. Over the years, the innovations have improved daily life for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. They have made driving at night easier, made buildings safer, and made consumer electronics lighter, less energy-intensive and less harmful to the environment. They even helped put a man on the moon. Every day at 3M, one idea always leads to the next, igniting momentum to make progress possible around the world.


3M was established in June 1967 as Minnesota (3M) Sdn. Bhd. The company housed its 9 employees and all its inventories in a 1,500sq.ft.room. In order to accommodate its expanding operations, the company relocated to bigger premises with proper warehousing facilities in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, in just over 3 months after its establishment. By 1971, extensive renovations were carried out to accommodate rapid growth and the subsequent increase in employees.

In 1972, the company’s name was changed to 3M Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. to reflect its international image. In the same year, 3M Malaysia was awarded three 3M International recognition for achieving outstanding performance. Despite rising levels of competition over the years, the company has continued to undergo rapid expansion. 3M Malaysia’ expeditious growth is undoubtedly attributable to it commitment in satisfying its customers’ need through a wide range of innovative and quality products. 3M’s product diversity and technological expertise have helped it gain a reputation as a total solutions provider.

3M Malaysia’s superior understanding of its market environment has enabled it to deliver unparalleled quality, value and service. This understanding is the foundation that allows 3M Malaysia to maintain high customer loyalty and sustain its outstanding record of achievements.

International Network and Collaboration

Being as an international company, 3M should have the medium of communication either in local or international branch. When 3M wanted to expand the reach of its innovation process it deployed an internal social network to access all the global employees, bringing in hundreds of new ideas. As for 3M already established in many countries around the world including Asia such as in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Japan, they are always looking to collaborate with innovative companies that share the values and commitment to better business. Other than that, 3M also always open the job opportunities to the public.

3M’s reputation for innovation is well established, but the company wanted to include more staff in the ideation process. Traditionally, access to the company’s annual Markets of the Future brainstorming sessions was limited. By employing a new internal social networking platform, 3M was able to foster creativity and collaboration among all its employees around the world. As a result when the tool was open to employees, it attracted more than 1,200 people, who generated over 700 new ideas, which resulted in nine new markets for the company to explore.

3M’s Corporate Strategy group conducts an annual exercise to define future markets. The organization sought to broaden the scope of this process and challenge employees to focus on the future while the economy tried to correct itself. According to the knowledge management strategist at 3M, although it’s not an easy task, leaders should recognized that this was the ideal time to inject new fuel into the process for defining future markets.

3M’s Corporate Knowledge Management group partnered with its Corporate Strategy and Corporate IT groups to deploy Enterprise 2.0 technology to expand and manage its innovation process. Access was open to all the global employees in 42 countries participated during the idea-gathering period. For another period, more ideas were generated and filtered into 26 market clusters. All told, the new process yielded nine potential future markets for 3M.

The group dramatically broadened access to its innovation strategies and learned a new technology in an exceedingly short period. In only few weeks, it was able to reach out to tens of thousands of global employees and identify multiple viable potential markets. The biggest benefit was that this new approach supported efforts to enhance employee engagement. Additionally, there’s now a strengthened partnership between the Corporate IT and Corporate Knowledge Management groups. The strategy also demonstrates 3M’s ongoing commitment to investing in its future.

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