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3M Optical Systems Case Questions

1. At the end of the case, what is the condition of the firm? How well is it doing?

3M is doing pretty well, but Optical System (OS) unit within it is in doubt. 3M transformed itself from mining at the start up 25 years into fabulous micro-interconnection, digital image, and transferal drug delivery. The corporation became a highly diversified global company with an esteemed reputation of innovation. By 1992, it had evolved into 3900 profit centers located within 47 divisions in 57 countries worldwide.

Its well-known innovation reputation results from a mantra that 25% of its sales are to be generated by products introduced in the last five years. The management commits to building the company's core technologies and to create an environment where people can innovate. The management believes that an environment can "stimulate ordinary people to produce extraordinary performances". By the early 1990s, it has more than 100 laboratories world wide to keep it technology leadership. It also funded these R&D efforts at a rate between 6% and 7% of sales, twice more than other US industrial companies did. Especially, the new CEO, DeSimone, is looking forward to great efforts in innovation by raising the expectations to 30% of sales from products introduced in the past four years.

OS group has trouble to get funding and under time pressure to have result. In 1988, Ron Mitch , R&D vice president for the Life Science Sector demoted OS unit to group?level project development, due to its long incubation stage and declining sales. Andy Wong believes the micro protection filter could be the new OS hope. However, Wong is having a trouble getting the funding for the microfilm filter project since OS has a reco ...
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