National Geographic : 1972 Sep
When you put up a wall,who are you really shutting out? A barrier makes prisoners of the people on both sides of it. If it keeps someone else out, it also keeps you in. And some of the most impenetrable walls in existence are built out of the most insubstantial things: words. Words become rules and regulations, procedures and attitudes. And because words come easy, walls spring up far faster than they can be torn down. A simple statement like "We don't want those people competing in our area" is the bricks and mortar of a wall. This barrier can exist between two people or two departments or two nations. The result is always the same. It stops the flow of communications and ideas. This is something we are very concerned about, because M is closely identified with innovation, and much of that innovation stems from the creativity that is possible when individuals are not hampered by artificial barriers. Free interchange between different 3M people, 3M departments and among branches of 3M in different parts of the world is responsible for much of our success. The temptation to erect a wall is always strong. In the beginning, the idea behind it is that it will protect somebody from something and make him strong. But in the end, it only makes him weak by making him dependent upon the wall. Because a wall cannot prevent someone on the other side from having a good idea. And it will not protect an inferior product from a good one. But the worst thing about a wall is that it takes away the incentive to work constructively with your neighbors. And this ultimately prevents you from getting the best possible products or services. We believe in people. And we believe the more they can work together, the better things will work for all of us. 3 commys ople stillcount here. 3M Co., 3 Center, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101 .