As you read this case story, think about the following two questions: 1. What were the critical factors that enabled 3M Post-it Notes to be successfully commercialized and what can we generalize about managing the innovation process from this case history? 2. What were the critical roles performed by some of the key individuals, including Silver, Oliveira, Nicholson, Fry, and Ramey?
33 3M's Post-it Notes: A Managed or Accidental Innovation?
P. RANGANATH NAYAK AND JOHN KETTERINGHAM
In late 1978, the bleak reports from the four-city market tests came back to the 3M Corporation. The analyses were showing that this "Post-it Note Pads" idea was a real …show more content…
It was the moment for which all scientists become scientists-the emergence of a unique, unexpected, previously unobserved and reliable scientific phenomenon. Each time Silver put those things together, they fell into the same pattern-every time. "It's one of those things you look at and you say, this has got to be useful! You're not forcing materials into a situation to make them work. It wanted to do this. It wanted to make Postit adhesive," Silver said. Technically the material was what the research program called for, a new polymer with adhesive properties. But in examining it, Silver noticed among its other curious properties that this material was not "aggressively" adhesive. It would create what scientists call "tack" between two surfaces, but it would not bond tightly to them. Also, and this was a problem not solved for years, this
material was more "cohesive" than it was "adhesive." It clung to its own molecules better than it clung to any other molecules. So if you sprayed it on a surface (it was sprayable, another property that attracted Silver) and then slapped a piece of paper on the sprayed surface, you could remove all or none of the adhesive when you lifted the paper. It might "prefer" one surface to another, but not stick well to either. Someone would have to invent a new coating for paper if 3M were to use this as an adhesive for pieces of paper. But paper? Not very likely, thought