The humble Post It Note – and its power in driving results

Craig Hamer
Founder @ The Performance Culture

I am always astounded by the power of the humble post-it note. I love using them to bring focus, visual clarity and alignment to business teams. The benefits of these little pieces of brightly coloured paper – when used correctly – is awesome.

So let me tell you why…..

Whenever I’m running Strategy Workshops or looking at Process/Performance Improvement Initiatives you will find my walls covered in these little squares of paper. I believe they are a powerful tool because: (i) they allow and promote collaboration (ii) they give everyone a voice (iii) they improve the speed of decision making (iv) they improve the quality of outcomes (v) they ultimately improve engagement. 5 attributes I see as key in developing effective and executable plans.

Let’s explore a little more:

Collaboration: So many organisations talk of creating truly collaborative working practices. Yet often I find endeavours to achieve this fail. the reasons I often hear are it was too unwieldy, too time consuming or simply impractical. The post-it note, whilst being a simple thing provides an excellent tool to promote collaborative design, development and decision making.

Group and team exercises are easily managed with post-it notes. You can ‘chunk’ up the thinking of a group of individuals to help them build a single shared picture for alignment with ease. You can take an organisational goal and ‘chunk’ it down by function and team to an individual level to create clarity. The post-it note is for me unrivalled as a tool to quickly and visually manage collaborative processes.

Gives everyone a voice: I am sure you have been to a team event or workshop where one or two people dominate the conversation?

The post-it note when posted onto a wall as part of an idea generation exercise, should have no owner. It is merely an idea – an idea that may be good or bad. Each idea should be judged on merit rather than the seniority, or strength of character of its proposer. Using post-it notes is therefore a great way to bring the ideas of younger team members or more reserved team members into the process. This stops proceedings being dominated by the same old voices.

Improve the Speed of Outcomes: Don’t you just hate it when disagreements side-track the meeting? Is it frustrating if some people want all the detail before they feel able to move on?

The post-its approach can have a profound impact on managing such issues to improve the speed of decision making. The collaborative approach of getting people out of their seats, interacting with each other and the visual nature of the process allows people to become invested in the process.

The ease in which ideas can be generated, posted, evaluated and ranked by simply moving post-it notes around provides a huge degree of efficiency. A well facilitated process allows subgroups to work on issues in parallel to the main process continuing to be evolved. Combining multiple approaches to get the ‘best-fit’ outcome is made so much easier by the ability to simply move the post-it note without wasting time with re-drafting.

Improve the Quality of Outcomes: Remember the plethora of workshops or meetings you have attended where nothing gets decided?

I believe strategy development, improvement initiatives and decision making outcomes can be vastly improved by using a ‘systems thinking’ approach with post-it notes as the key device. The use of post-it notes with a blank wall and everyone stood on their feet creates a palpable energy and flurry of activity so often found lacking in most meetings and workshops.

The visual nature of the post-it approach encourages a level of detailed analysis which sucks the energy out of more traditional meetings. The quality input of a broad range of contributors often results in more robust outcomes being developed. And probably most importantly the outcomes generated are often far more real, executable and fit for purpose than people may have thought possible.

Improve Engagement: At the moment there seems to be a drive from leaders and managers to find ways to grow employee engagement. Increasingly the research tells us that employee engagement is about giving people a voice, giving them opportunities to grow and develop and giving them a sense of purpose in their work. A collaborative, systems thinking derived approach using post-it notes as a core tool not only drives such engagement, but in turn can have a profound impact on business results.

Who ever knew the humble post-it note could be such a powerful tool in getting your people aligned, engaged and invested in the future outcomes for your business.

So my challenge to you as 2017 approaches and you start to consider your strategy and business plans for the new year, give some thought to how a collaborative, systems thinking approach might add value to what you can achieve!

To learn more about how we can help you and your team then please contact Craig@theperformanceculture.co.uk for a no-obligation conversation.

If you want to learn more about the ‘post-it’ note approach watch this great TED talk by Tom Wujec on ‘How to make toast’ 

The power of the humble Post-It note

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