Most people know the origin of the Post-it Note: a failed attempt at making a super-strong adhesive led inventor Art Fry to repurpose the substance to make bookmarks for his choir hymnal. The ability to reposition tabs without tearing the paper was appealing to him – and eventually to millions of others. 3M’s accidental product is now available in 27 sizes, 57 colors and 20 fragrances (!) and generates $1 billion in annual revenue.*

The newest incarnation of the sticky note is the Extreme version – designed to transverse from the office environment to the construction realm. Extreme notes are made to stick on irregular surfaces such as brick or wood and to be compatible in the outdoors. They are water-resistant and function in hot and cold weather. If they really work and catch on, the revenue figures could see a substantial boost.

Post-its are a classic office product. It seems natural to extend this line into shapes, colors, sizes and other variations for office or educational use, but it took some imagination (and engineering) to make a product that extends the same product into an entirely new field. The creative legacy of the brand’s formation must still be alive!

Think of the products or services that you offer. Is there a way to extend their use into a completely new arena? Is there a modification you could make that would enhance its appeal to a different audience or market? Try to run your new business development like Post-its and don’t permanently stick to one spot.


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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