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

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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