Top 20 Most Admired Companies

To create the top 20, Fortune and its survey partners at Hay Group asked the experts -- in this case, more than 3,700 people from dozens of industries -- to select the 10 companies they admire most. This year's winners all have strong records of innovation, leadership, and financial strength -- and their employees know it.

3M
3M
Top 20 rank: 19
Rank in Medical and Other Precision Equipment: 3
The company that invented masking tape, Scotchgard, and Post-it notes gets respect because it has managed to become a $24 billion global business while continuing to generate new ideas (and a healthy return on equity).

A big part of 3M's secret might be the set of principles coined by William McKnight, a bookkeeper who joined the company a century ago and eventually became president and chairman. In McKnight's own words, "Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it's essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow." The upshot: Don't tell employees how to do their jobs -- let them innovate. An admirable idea indeed.  -Jon Fortt
See how 3M rates in 8 key areas
Last updated March 03 2008: 2:10 PM ET

Apple

Berkshire Hathaway

General Electric

Google

Toyota Motor

Starbucks

FedEx

Procter & Gamble

Johnson & Johnson

Goldman Sachs

Target

Southwest Airlines

American Express

BMW

Costco

Microsoft

UPS

Cisco Systems

3M

Nordstrom
Most admired: Full list See how 317 top companies rate in 8 key areas. (more)
Most admired in your state California is home to the most corporations on this year's list. See the top-rated firms near you. (more)
Game: How admirable are you? Can you match each quote to the Most Admired company it refers to? See how admirably you score. (more)