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3m and the Evolution of Post It Notes

Essay by   •  January 16, 2013  •  Case Study  •  1,068 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,153 Views

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1.Describe the "critical elements" in the evolution of Post-it Notes from genesis through market introduction. [4 points]

The critical elements in the evolution of the Post-It Note are a clear representation of 3M's innovation chain. The Post-it Note was not a solution to a problem but an accident that took place due to 3Ms environment. There are many critical elements associated with the evolution of the invention.

The first critical element was the involvement of Spence Silver in 1964 where he took part of 3M's new program to reexamine existing products. During this program Silver learned about a new family of monomers developed by Archer-Daniels- Midland (ADM). With the approval of 3M, Silver acquired these monomers. However it was not only the acquisition that was critical, it was Silver's ability to pursue change that allowed for the creation of a new adhesive product. Instead of following 3M's usual approaches, he diverted away and was able to develop a process that created a new adhesive. Although Silver created this new adhesive, it had no purpose or application under 3M's existing product line. This made it difficult for Silver to have support from 3M to the point that he had to battle to receive some money to patent his new invention.

After exploring different ideas for the use of the adhesive the second critical moment in the development of Post-IT Notes takes place. This would not have taken place if Silver would have given up his invention; instead he continued to look for others in the company who shared similar ideas. In the search Silver presents his invention to Geoff Nicholson, who happens to be the lead for one of the open-ended research and development teams. He liked the idea, and started recruiting people for the new venture team. This leads them to Arthur Fry, who had support from the top but that also experienced the same hurdles as Silver. However Fry discovered a potential application for Silver's adhesive; a sort of adhesive and paper that will create a better bookmark. Fry's ability to think outside the box allowed him to apply Silver's adhesive to a piece of paper.

Fry's idea however was not the end of the Silver's quest, there was a still a problem. The adhesive did not work well with paper and was not suitable for that type of surface. Therefore another key element in the evolution is the involvement of Henry Courtney and Roger Merril. They invented the paper coating technology that will allow Post it notes to work as they do presently.

Having conceived the idea, and solved yet another hurdle Fry was then in charge of product engineering. This was another critical element; Fry had to apply outside of the box thinking for the development and production of the Post-It Note. The challenging task was to locally apply the adhesive to one side of the paper. In order to accomplish his task, he built a small-scale assembly machine in his own basement. Without the small scale machine and Fry's innovation the Post -It Note would not exist. Within two years Fry and the mechanical engineers developed a machine that can produce Post it Notes.

Another key element is related to the Marketing

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