The Power of a Sticky Note
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Dynamite comes in small packages. And sometimes, this dynamite is a colourful one - sticky notes.
I feel so strongly about the value they can add to both the structure and outcome of meetings that I’d go as far as to say that they should be an essential for every meeting.
I had a coffee with a client last week and she said, “I used to get so frustrated when you showed up to a session with sticky notes in hand. I honestly didn’t understand how they could add any kind of strategic value but now I see how incredibly powerful they are – not only for brainstorming but also for designing and creating structure.”
I beamed back at her. I was slightly shy of ecstatic.
In this short blog, I’ll give you another 6 reasons why you immediately need to dash out and buy some stickies and sharpies for your office;
1. Conversation | The process of writing down your ideas and then having to ‘stick’ them up in order to share, enables high level conversation in a way quite unlike any other. I think we’ve been primed to believe meetings are serious and serious means ‘sitting and talking around a boardroom table in suits’. But, I believe in productivity, innovative thinking and collaboration and a creative way of work brings this to life - in any environment.
2. Colour | The bright and beautiful colours of sticky notes shouldn’t be distracting, they should be an enabler. If there are various areas of focus to cover in a session – create a colour code. For example, “what worked” is green and “what didn’t work” is red. There’s an element of psychology to this (which is a blog all on its own) but, green signs are often “go” and red lights often mean “stop” by association. In the same vein, team members can be allocated a colour which makes feedback per stream or team member easier to document at the end of a session.
3. Voices | Distributing the weight of contribution equally amongst the participation in the room is another major point in favour of sticky notes during sessions. It gives everyone a voice and an opportunity to contribute no matter of seniority, experience or title. Work is serious, life is serious but the way you strategically get everyone in your meeting to contribute can be a little less stiff.
4. Time | This is the mothership. Time. By using a structured, time-potted session and leveraging the colour and charisma of stickies you can work wonders in a 45 minute session. The wonder of clustering allows us to set ourselves up to have actionable outcomes by the time we leave the meeting. Gone are the days of a chit-chat and then a ball-down-the-middle syndrome. This makes a BIG difference when talking about creating mental models between different stakeholders in any meeting.
5. Ideas | You can’t write a lot on a sticky note: it forces short, sharp concise thoughts. Key words help others to understand what you mean, and it helps you, yourself, summarise what you’re trying to say. It forces communication that is slightly more crisp.
6. Back to Basics | This bring us to the 6th power. Daniel Pink has written about the idea of how valuable it is to write not always type. It sparks and ignited a different side on the brain. We’re also able to summarise a lot better when writing over typing. Sticky notes force us to write and get away from our phones and laptops. WATCH – ‘Why you should take notes by hand.’
Once your session is over, take a photo of the board you’ve worked on together – it’s waaaay better than minutes of a meeting, plus nobody has to waste their time tediously typing out what has already been written. At Kaleidoscope, we use the Post-it app and then share the images on Slack.
It doesn’t matter the industry, nor the topic to be discussed – try a structured, time-potted sticky note session and let the results speak for themselves. Nothing replaces a good, old-fashioned team conversation, but developing a meeting flow with stickies as the leading asset will change the way you work. But, be sure to plan and prepare – sticky notes definitely have powers but the element of preparation to work their magic. Other than making the team at Post-it rich - buy in bulk and trust in the power of a sticky note.