A Business Lesson On: Leave Room for the Unexpected

Story: Success by Mistake

3M allows employees 10% of their time to work on individually driven innovations. Spencer Silver, one of the participating chemists, performed an experiment in which he mixed an unusually large quantity of a polymer with a reaction mixture, totally contrary to established scientific principles. Ordinarily, this process, called polymerization catalysis, required mixing very precise ratios of the elements.

By defying scientific rationale, Silver discovered a totally unique phenomenon—a new polymer that was only partly sticky, not “aggressively” adhesive. This polymer would ultimately serve as the “tack” between the sticky note paper and other surfaces, holding them together but allowing easy separation without damaging either surface.

Moral of the Story:

Leave room in business and in life for the unexpected – by having a war chest of (a) time, (b) money, (c) people, and (d) emotional energy. The purpose of this is the best ideas and opportunities often come from unexpected places and at unexpected times. Being prepared for the unexpected makes your business results exponentially stronger.

Expect the unexpected!

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About Paul Kirpes, TPG Companies

For over 35 years, Paul J. Kirpes, Founder and President of TPG Companies, has transformed businesses, corporations, communities, and ventures in the private and public sectors throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. Paul empowers companies, their owners, and leaders to Transform, Perform and Grow!
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