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Post-it notes’ success, step by step

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

By now, most leaders know the story of Post-it notes: how 3M inventor Art Fry stuck with his idea of removable sticky notes.

Since those trademarked Post-it notes debuted nationwide in 1980, they have become ubiquitous on the world’s desktops.

Many 3M engineers, production staff and salespeople doubted that any market existed because scrap paper was already free.

But Fry persisted, proving that all great ideas still must be sold:

• First he gave out samples to scientists and secretaries throughout the company.

• He tracked consumption, finding they used seven to 20 pads of Post-its per year.

• He recruited a 3M technical director and a vice president to champion the product.

• He sent samples to 3M’s chief executive and secretary.

• Samples then were mailed to CEOs at all Fortune 500 companies.

• Fry built a prototype manufacturing machine himself.

“It takes stamina to be an innovator,” he once said. “Barriers stop most people, but a good innovator goes around them.”

— Adapted from “Post-It Creator Stuck With It,” J. Bonasia, Investor’s Business Daily.

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