Post-it Notes: Catalyst for Collaboration

Post-it notes are an analog tool that offers immense value for product development ideation and innovation, even when compared to other modern and specialized digital tools. The practice of brainstorming with Post-it notes offers unparalleled collaborative efficiency for documenting and synthesizing many ideas.

Why use Post-it notes?

Speed
There is no faster way to capture multiple ideas from different team members than with Post-its. When each person is able to write down his thoughts as they come, the resulting output is an impressive amount of ideas in a minimal amount of time. There is no bottleneck from one person being in charge of documenting or recording. Also, people can typically write faster than they can type. At Nectar, we often find we write down ideas faster than we can put them on a whiteboard or project poster board! Just imagine how many ideas a team of four could document in a few minutes.

Clarity
Nectar keeps the amount of content on each note bite-sized – meaning we use the rule of thumb of one idea per Post-it. This makes it easy to read and process the information at a glance.  By keeping notes to single ideas and writing sufficiently large, each participant has a clear and consistent view of the information. Putting the notes on a white board or foam board ensures that the information is viewable by anyone at any time.

User Feedback in a Mock-Operatory Scenario

Organization
When the group has exhausted and captured all ideas, the synthesis begins. The Post-its enable the team to quickly arrange and rearrange ideas. One of the most common synthesis practices is grouping or clustering ideas based on patterns or commonalities. What starts out as a swarm of square papers quickly takes shapes and ultimately reveal previously unrecognized insights.

Nectar also leverages the various note color options for categorization.

Interactivity
The interactive aspect of this methodology leads to high quality output. Writing down ideas (as opposed to dictating or typing) helps each person better remember the thought. When team members are responsible for writing down and presenting their own ideas, the level of engagement and involvement inevitably increases. In these sessions, we never see unengaged participants – rather, an enthusiastic and high energy exchange transpires. Ultimately, everyone is heard and sees the same information.

How does Nectar utilize Post-its?

Project Planning
Planning a multidisciplinary and/or multi component project is typically quite complex. Each discipline must coordinate and synchronize their tasks looking to the future. We can not spend exorbitant amounts of time in this step. The various discipline leaders come together to create a project plan, working backwards from the client’s milestones. Utilizing swim lanes, the leads will organize the necessary activities sequentially. With everyone planning on the same board, interdependencies become clear and conflicts can be quickly mitigated. The project PM will then take the full plan and present it in a clean digital form.

Scrum boards are also used for staying on top of project tasks. Project managers will set up a board with swim lanes for disciplines and/or projects. Each project task or activity will be a note placed on the board and moved between “Not Started,” “In Progress” and “Complete.” The board is updated every scrum meeting, which happen at least once a week depending on the project or team.

Research
The research component involves copious amounts of information gathering, so using post-its is a no brainer. Early on, Nectar will record requirements, notes, questions, use cases, stakeholders, etc. and put these on project boards for all team members to see. The team also utilizes Post-its for technical and competitive analyses.

Concept
As part of the user-centered methodology, Nectar’s teams will execute many product brainstorming and user feedback sessions. Post-it notes are a primary tool throughout the process. In a brainstorm, every concept, feature, or idea will get a note. When creating user journeys, each step gets a note. The team can then easily rearrange the sequence until it is satisfactory. For user feedback, the team records the user’s pain points, delights, and questions about each concept as the user gives his thoughts.

Project Planning
Project Planning with Post-It notes

What other tools does Nectar use with Post-its?

Printing post-its
When clarity is essential and/or the same information will be repeated/reused many times (project activities), printing directly onto Post-its is a favorite solution. We use a paper template to put the blank Post- its on, which is then put in the printer. We populate the content using a digital template in Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word.

Post-it Plus App ( link ) 
The team often uses white boards to put our post its. Inevitably, the space must be cleared for other projects or presentations, so capturing the work becomes important. With the Post-it Plus App, any team member can quickly capture all the notes and organize them digitally in the app. The results can be shared via email and PDF, or even within the app. This is a huge time saver and helps cross the analog-digital divide.

2017-10-09T18:08:14+00:00

About the Author:

Evan is the Experience Manager at Nectar Product Development. He brings a balance of analytical thinking, technical competence, and creativity to the table. His background includes Industrial & Systems Engineering, User Research, and Software Development.

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