The Importance of the Small Stuff


Here’s a quick test to see whether you qualify as an “innovator”: when you’re faced with a problem, do you A) See things as they are; B) Wish things were what they used to be C) See things as they could be?

If you answered (C), congratulations on your upcoming success! If you answered (A) or (B)… well, keep reading and you just might be an innovative thinker by the end of this article. Behind great brands lies innovation that has stemmed from something small and something beautiful.

If Steve Jobs hadn’t dropped out of college and taken a calligraphy class in his free time, the Mac would never have been the first computer with beautiful typography and renowned design elements. It took Bill Bernbach to realize the power behind the underdog; Avis Rent A Car was only Number 2, so they suggested you went to them instead of Hertz because “the line at our counter is shorter” and “we try harder.”

One of the most inspiring innovation stories is when a mistake led to the birth of one of the most renowned brands in the world. Dr Spencer Silver of the 3M company was trying to develop a super-strong adhesive, but accidentally created a “weak low-tack” adhesive. “A failure”, he told himself and his co-workers – among whom was church-goer Arthur Fry.
Fry loved singing hymns at church, but was getting increasingly frustrated when the bookmarks kept falling out of the book, making him lose his page. If only there was a way to mark his page that wasn’t permanent…and just like that, the Post-It was born. A sticky slip of yellow paper that is now internationally beloved. Incidentally, the choice of the color yellow was also a fluke, as a neighboring lab to the Post-it team had scrap yellow paper, which the team initially used.

People say don’t sweat the small stuff. But perhaps it’s the small stuff that is the gateway to innovation.

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