Monday, July 7, 2014

Become a StickyNote Ninja - Review

A short history of Post-it notes

Post-it notes, the self-adhesive notes that come in a variety of sizes and colors, were developed by 3M over the course of two decades.  Originally designed to be a strong adhesive, the resulting solution was one that worked as a pressure-sensitive, temporary adhesive.  Serendipitously, one of the research engineers applied the adhesive to the bookmarks for his church hymnal.  Thus, the Post-it note was born, and marketed to the public starting in 1980.

Since then, Post-it notes and off-brand copies have made their way into almost every business and home.  The self-adhesive notes are convenient because they can serve as temporary reminders and bookmarks.  The need has been met, the note can simply be discarded.

StickyNote Ninja

In 2007 Kate Rutter presented at a design conference (UX) on using self-adhesive notes as part of  brainstorming and creative problem solving.  At some point in my browsing around the Internet I came across her website and presentation (links below).  This post is a summary of her presentation, which I encourage you to download and review.

Why use self-adhesive notes for brainstorming?
Self-adhesive notes are designed to stick to almost any smooth surface, they are generally available in any business setting.  People are accustomed to using self-adhesive notes.  While the 3M brand can still be a little pricey, off-brands are less expensive.  The size of these notes (typically 1.5x2.0 inch and 3x3 inch are the right size for one idea or concept per note.  Because of temporary sticking nature, self-adhesive notes are easy to re-arrange and simple to use.

Two ideas underlie the use of self-adhesive notes for brainstorming.
  1. Create information by generating new ideas, exploring problems in more detail, and exploring attributes of some topic.
  2. Consolidate information by identifying patterns, prioritizing, making decisions, and creating plans.

Basic layouts
There are four basic layouts for brainstorming with self-adhesive notes.

Work space
Self-adhesive notes can be applied to almost any surface.  As such, they will work with whiteboards, windows, doors (watch out for people using the door), and flip charts.  Standing while working on a vertical surface seems to lend itself to the brainstorming process, but you could also use these techniques on a flat surface, such as a table.

Tips for capturing
When writing ideas on self-adhesive notes, legibility is a key consideration as the notes need to be readable later.  Using a chisel-point marker provides the right amount of thickness and font size for reading from further away.  Additionally, when a brainstorming session has been completed, the work can be captured with a smart phone camera, edited, and shared with others as a PDF or image.

Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes by David Straker

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