• Jolene Roehlkepartain

Being Open to New Directions


How open are you to new directions? Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, was trying to develop a new adhesive.


“At that time, we wanted to develop bigger, stronger, tougher adhesives,” he said. His creation, however, “was none of those.” His adhesive was sticky, but it could easily be pulled off. And then put back on again.


Yet, there was something about this weak adhesive that fascinated Silver. “I saw beautiful, bright, clear, crystalline spheres—like little glass balls,” he told the Newark Star-Ledger about what the adhesive looked like under magnification.


One of his colleagues, Art Fry, was frustrated by his bookmarks that kept falling out of his books. The two began working together…and…


The Post-it Note® was born.


The genius of the discovery was that it was sticky enough to stick to paper but not too strong to tear the paper when you pulled it off.


Silver’s creation not only has transformed the lives of many people but also appears in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York as an everyday design to celebrate.


Yet, if Silver has stubbornly stuck to his original goal of creating a “bigger, stronger, tougher adhesive,” he would have failed. By changing his direction, he discovered something even more important: a creative, practical way to revolutionize our work and home life.


How can you change directions to discover something new?

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