Invention of the Post-it note is a great example of

❶ turning a problem to an opportunity,

❷ combining the unusual, and

This story illustrates also the Wood Screw Model of Entrepreneurial Success.


3M corporation had a problem with a glue it had invented. Their scientists were attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive, but the glue did not produce the desired results. It did not stick things together effectively.

Search for a Different Application

The glue was considered to be a failed product until Arthur Fry, a 3M chemist and an inventor, found the way to turn the glue's disadvantage to an advantage. Arthur Fry searched for such an application where a glue that didn't stick too strongly would be appropriate. In particular, he  thought of a  way of combining the glue with a bookmark, which is something that people want to move from page to page.

Experimentation and Discovery

Fry began experimenting. Particularly, he coated only one edge of the paper so that the portion extending from a book would not be sticky. Fry used these stickers to write notes to his boss. This use led him to broaden his original idea into a new application concept and creation of a new-to-the-world product ‒ the Post-it note.

Ultimately, Arthur Fry discovered a great opportunity in a problem and helped his company to turnaround a failing project. A "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive became the basis for the Post-it note, which was a huge success. 3M named Fry a corporate researcher in 1986.