"For my very first hallmark discussion, I've prepared a story about tape.
It begins in 1925 with a man Dick Drew who was a sandpaper salesman with the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company. Dick Drew would go from place to place attempting to convince people that his company's sandpaper was better than the other guys. He would talk to mechanics about how best to sand the paint in auto body shops, and sometimes after he'd been pitching to them he'd sit it he back of the auto body shop and watch the men work.
One day he noticed that all the mechanics had shared a common problem.
When the mechanics wanted to do a two-tone paint job on a vehicle, they would first begin by panting the entire car black and then protect the paint by taping on large pieces of butcher paper before applying some lines of red or white. then, once the paint dried, they would finally remove the tape and the butcher paper.
Here came the problem, because the adhesive they were sticking to the car was so strong, it would also often take the black paint with it effectively undoing a lot of their work. So, a frustrated mechanic would get back to it and the company lost money in for both the cost of extra product and labor.
After drew watched this happen several times, he realized that the adhesive was too sticky. Because they were only hanging paper they didn't need a glue that strong.
That's when he had an insight. Sandpaper is essentially a piece of paper lathered in glue with an abrasive material sprinkled all over the top of it. But without the abrasive materials, it was a much weaker glue than was being used by the mechanics, hence potentially more appropriate to hold butcher paper. Aha!
When he stripped the sandpaper down however, he realized it wasn't an easy fix. The adhesive used in sandpaper was also too sticky
So he spent a lot of time creating a new one that was the right amount of sticky.
Then, he couldn't use them because the stacks were sticking together and crumpling.
He was stumped.
By the time he had come to these conclusions had been reached and he discovered his new obstacles, it had been months of work and his boss ordered him to get back to focusing on work in his position as a salesman. "we're in the sandpaper business son; industrial abrasives!"
Still, he refused to stop and instead began working after the offices closed.
One night while staying late he had the solution, "what if we wrapped these adhesives on a large spool so that there is always a dry backing facing open air?
It worked, and thus masking tape was invented.
The tape was a huge hit, and by 1928 Drew's company was selling more masking tape than they were sandpaper.
This Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company is now known as 3M. The company now sells more than 55,000 different products, giving it nearly a 1:1 ratio of employees to product. They now create products ranging from touchscreens to street lights to dental fillings.
Since that revelation of Dick Drew, the business model shifted.
3M is in the inventing business. They spend 8% of annual gross revenue on basic research, and it pays off. 30% of 3M's annual revenue comes from products made within the last 5 years.
These inventions aren't the lone ranger anymore, 3M now harnesses their aha moments. There is, what they call, a 15% rule. They ask all their employees to spend 15% of their workday doing a relaxing activity that they enjoy while on the clock. In addition 3M also promotes "conceptual blending." For example, They might move someone who has been working on a HD television screen that emits less energy for the past three years and move him to working on a team to creat the next best air filter for the next three. 3M also hosts office fairs to show off what each department has been working on. This sparks new ideas causing abstract mental processes between fields of research.
How does this story reflect our four hallmarks at Phi Theta Kappa?
"It takes a leader to have the confidence and faith in his pursuits to resist an authority figure's judgement.
Louis Pasteur says that "chance favors the prepared mind." this is true. Being able to make abstract connections is a result of having something to connect in the first place. It is necessary to have rehearsed and structured concepts to pull from when making these connections.
Fellowship, the fairs that 3M now holds in order to "cross-pollenate" fields of study in order to inspire new ideas.
Service, 3M is an interesting company in that unlike most companies, that focus on the marketability of one or few products of the same category, 3M investonon money in R&D arguably progressing civilization with new ideas.
I see inventions as a service to humanity.
I shared this story with you because I wanted to share the hallmarks, which are the values of Phi Theta Kappa.
Scholarship, Fellowship, Leadership and Service."