Tech. Entrepreneur Essay

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Pre-reading Reading: “3M Post-It Notes: A Managed or Accidental Innovation?” 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? 1 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…
R. Nayak and John Ketteringham are Management Consultants at Authur D. Little. Ralph Katz is Professor of Management at Northeastern University and Research Associate at MIT. 367 368 HUMAN SIDE OF MANAGING TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION control the amounts of interacting ingredients to very tightly defined proportions, in accordance with prevailing theory and experience. Silver said with a certain measure of glee, "The key to the Postit adhesive was doing the experiment. If I had sat down and factored it out beforehand, and thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. If I had limited my thinking only to what the literature said, I would have stopped. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." Highly regarded publications and experts would have told Silver there was no point in doing what he did. But Silver understood that science is one part meticulous calculation and one part fooling around. "People like myself," said Silver, "get excited about looking for new properties in materials. I find that very satisfying, to perturb the structure slightly and just see what happens. I have a hard time talking people into doing that-people who are more highly trained. It's been my experience that people are reluctant just to try, to experiment-just to see what will happen!" When Silver went ahead with the "wrong" proportions of the ADM monomers, just to see what would happen, he got a reaction that departed from the predictions of theory. It
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