When a company is being created, deciding on the type of culture that is to be expected or desired, perhaps isn’t the first port-of-call for a business owner.
But for the company 3M, the culture is an essential part. Theirs is to always share ideas and work together, rather than acting privately and alone. This meant that when scientist Spencer Silver couldn’t figure out how to create a very strong adhesive, instead of throwing away the weak adhesive that he had accidentally made, he remembered the company’s culture of being open and collaborative. So instead, Silver shared the invention with his teammates, and put it to one side for future use.
This future use came a few years later when Art Fry, also a scientist, was frustrated that his bookmark would not stay in place whilst at church. This made him think of Silver’s unintentionally weak adhesive, which would be the perfect solution!
What followed was the creation of the Post-It Note!
Thanks to the company culture of not hiding away ideas, and acting as one, an item which has become an office staple was created.
It just goes to show that, sometimes, success can occur only when people team up.
3M’s culture meant that instead of being embarrassed by an unsuccessful creation and feeling as though he had failed his task, he openly shared it in the hope of helping someone else. The company’s culture was such that Silver knew he would not be in trouble or ridiculed for ‘failing’ a task. The culture of 3M was to share ideas and help each other, rather than judge.
The value of having a company culture is evident in the example – if it wasn’t for 3M’s company culture of sharing, the ever-useful Post-It Note may never have been invented!
This little story has made us think about the culture we promote here at Ernest Gordon. Ours is to be open, honest and transparent, not only with clients and candidates but with colleagues, too. We’ve found that this is the best way to build long-lasting relationships.
Does your company, or the company you work for have a culture that you all try to stick to?
Source: Sinek (2014: Penguin)