For the Love of Sticky Notes
READ TIME: 2m
I love a sticky note!
And in celebration of great excitement in my sticky note world (keep reading to find out why) I wanted to share why, in my experience, a little piece of sticky paper can do a lot of great things.
I often set Post-it note challenge for the boards and teams I work with – the ‘why’ challenge. Many of you will be familiar with Simon Sinek's powerful talk on leadership and the power of why,
This is a TED talk I come back to time and time again for it’s simple and effective wisdom.
When boards, teams and individuals are really clear on why they do what they do and can all say it in an aligned, concise and compelling way, they report that it has impact not just on clarity of purpose and bringing people with them, but also on:
Choosing their actions – is what I am about to do or say contributing to our agreed purpose?
Making sense of schedules - is what I see in my diary this week in service of the ‘why’ we are working towards? If it is, great. If not, what needs to change to either make it so, or let it go?
The sticky notes come into play because they force you to be concise, which is easier said than done and worth trying out with your team. Any of you cheating and using teeny writing will get a nudge from me to grab a big fat pen and write large! Compelling and concise so that both literally and metaphorically you can carry that clear purpose with you.
I’m often to be found at the end of a day with a team, taking photos of the insights and actions they have captured on sticky notes and put all over the walls.
The final task is always to consolidate and choose the actions. One or two sticky notes each at the most.
Why so few? Giving ourselves huge to-do lists often decreases the chances that we’ll do anything. And if we try a whole load of things, how will we know which of them actually worked?
There’s something about writing things down, getting them out of your head and then narrowing that down to what’s really important and the priorities to act on next that is deceptive in it’s apparent simplicity, and highly effective.
Away Day Design
The expression “Post-it Note wonderfulness” is a little phrase born on a day of preparation for a leadership development course I was working on with my fabulous colleagues at Randolph Partnership. Having been through a thorough preparation process involving hours of interviews to get really clear what the business goals for our course were, we needed a way to order the many thoughts, ideas and observations we had collated in many different forms. The starting point was putting large sticky notes with the mindsets, behaviours and results the client wanted to support and develop in its leadership team up around the room. If you’ve never seen the large A5 size Post-it Notes, well frankly, they are life-enhancing! Underneath each note went a rainbow of Post-its summarising all the possible content we could offer that would support the participants to achieve those things. One colour for theories and practices, one colour for resources, books, articles, TED talks, another colour for potential exercises. From there, with what we knew about the client, their previous work in this area, and the time available, we narrowed down the content. Having it all up and in front of us was so much more energising and accessible than looking down at papers and books on a table, and gave us a fantastic starting point for writing and delivering a course that lit ‘100 fires’ in that organisation and a story I was proud to play a part in.
And that’s why I love them. They are a prompt to keep things simple, because they have limited space, and act as a reminder that something written one way, in one place, doesn’t have to stay there. What happens if you move it over here?
Do I Love Post-its Too Much?
My husband would say yes – too many sticky notes and marker pens in our house.
Though somewhat unnervingly, I recently realised that I spend so much time around sticky notes, that they are creeping into my décor and my wardrobe!! More yellow, pink and green tops, sweatshirts, cushions, candles and notebooks than I'd care to admit!
All this goes some way to explaining why there has been such great excitement that I now have my very own Causeway sticky notes. They are marvellous and I rather love them. Be sure to ask me for some next time we work together!
Leaving You with a Top Tip:
I will always be grateful to the client who showed me how to peel my sticky notes (horizontally along the sticky edge rather than lifting up from the bottom) so that they don’t curl up when you put them on the wall… life-changing! So, I am paying it forward!