3M is best known for its consumer products—Post-it® Notes, Scotch tape, and sandpaper, to name a few—and develops products and solutions in a wide array of industries, including healthcare, energy, and manufacturing. But when LCLD Fellows visited the company’s Minnesota office earlier this fall, they learned about much more than the company’s products.

The Learning Experience opened with a session highlighting some of 3M’s most important values—innovation, collaboration, and a focus on people—from Chief Design Officer Eric Quint. Quint spoke about his role guiding creative thinking across 3M’s 24 business divisions, and particularly the ways in which he encourages the use of design thinking to make sure that the company remains people-centric and meaningful. One way 3M does this is through what Quint calls “collaborative creativity.” 

“Great things happen when you work collaboratively,” Quint said. “It’s not about reaching the finish line, but about achieving a greater purpose… You can’t solve today’s complex problems with just one function.”

Collaboration isn’t just critical to 3M’s innovation and business success; it’s also what helps the Legal Affairs Department run smoothly.  

“You learn by engaging shoulder-to-shoulder with the business,” said Maureen Harms, Associate General Counsel to the Healthcare Business Group, during a panel discussion with lawyers from different business divisions. To that end, 3M supports its lawyers in developing critical business skills through opportunities like a new lawyer academy and an advanced business course for senior lawyers. As Fellows heard throughout the day, development is another important value at 3M. 

“One of 3M’s leadership behaviors is ‘Develop others and self,’” said Sandra Nowak, Assistant Chief IP Counsel to the Consumer Business Group. “Our leadership was intentional with that wording. ‘Others’ comes first, but there’s also inherent self-development when you’re developing others.” This means that at 3M, every employee builds a personal development plan and meets regularly with her/his supervisor to discuss it.

Development is also a personal value for Ivan Fong (below), LCLD Member and 3M’s Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs, and General Counsel. During a “fireside chat” with Fellows, Fong spoke about the importance of “champions” in his own his career, and how it has shaped his attitude toward championing others. 

“A former supervisor once took a chance on me, so I believe in taking chances on others,” he said. “Organic selection of mentors can also be very effective. Build your own advisory board.”

Fong also spoke about how 3M’s commitment to developing its outside counsel—particularly in the area of diversity and inclusion.  

“We want our outside counsel to be diverse, so we focus on the diversity of our relationship partners and those identified by the firms as their successors,” Fong said. “That way, we not only focus on a relatively simple metric, but we also underscore the importance of succession planning.” In fact, earlier this year, 3M’s legal department hosted a Successor Summit to help future relationship partners get to know 3M better and begin to play a larger role in developing the relationship. 

Fellows also had an opportunity to hear from two members of 3M’s preferred counsel network—Wendy Wildung, Partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, and Jerry Blackwell, LCLD Member and Founder and Chairman of Blackwell Burke P.A. Wildung and Burke discussed their experiences as diverse lawyers, the importance of champions, and the future of law firm diversity.

“When I started practicing, all the minority partners at big law firms in the Twin Cities could have shared a cab to the airport,” said Blackwell. “If we had the same accountability with diversity that we have in other areas of our firms, we’d be out of business... I started my own firm to demonstrate that diversity can work.” 

For Fellows, it was a day full of insights into 3M’s business and meaningful interactions with both 3M lawyers and other Fellows.

“I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day at 3M, learning how its legal department is organized and how they are tackling issues around diversity,” said 2017 Fellow Jeff Brockmann. “I gained valuable insights that I could take back to my company and use.”

“What I found most valuable about the 3M Learning Experience was the opportunity to interact with other Fellows and 3M attorneys, including General Counsel Ivan Fong,” said 2017 Fellow Jaya White. “And of course, the opportunity to learn more about 3M’s business—which is a lot more than just Scotch tape!”

The night before the Learning Experience, Fellows attended a reception at the James J. Hill Center, hosted by Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and Blackwell Burke P.A. 

LCLD would like to thank Renee Dotson-Gill, Carlos Rodriguez, and Peg Lundquist from 3M, and Lica Tomizuka and Mesha Henna from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. 

Photo Gallery 

Photos by Caitlin Puffenberger (unless noted)