In praise of the Post-it

This very nearly caused a serious tea-spill this morning...

Analyst: Government’s digital leaders’ network shouldn’t be using post-it notes

It's a story about an analyst who, having read a post on the Government Digital Service blog - First Digital Leaders’ meeting, said this...

“Why did they have a physical meeting? This could have been done far more effectively using digital tools – communication and collaboration tools that would have taken ideas and automatically captured them, rather than the joys of Post It notes and pens,”

Earlier in the day, having read the same post, I had tweeted this...

  So how was it that we came to such different views?

Here's what I think happens when we get involved with a Post-it exercise at a meeting...

  • We get engaged, immediately, in the task.
  • We get to focus on the things we personally care about, which lets us get things off our chest and makes us feel involved.
  • We get to stand up to stick the Post-its on the wall (or wherever), which is always better than sitting motionless on our bottoms.
  • We bump into other people, randomly, which starts conversations that will perhaps develop into useful relationships.
  • We experience hugely valuable, non-verbal communication.
  • We get to connect, first hand in a very personal way, with people and their ideas.
  • We can move Post-its around readily, which means themes can be identified quickly.
  • We take away with us a colourful, unique and memorable image that represents the contribution of everyone.
  • We become part of a shared experience.
  • And probably a load of other stuff too.

Some of this is possible using digital tools, but not all and certainly not in the 20 minutes or so that Post-it exercises take. Doing this kind of thing, particularly in the early stages of forming a new group, is enormously valuable. Of course the conversation will continue online afterwards but it will be a very different one because of the experience of the physical meeting.

I am a HUGE FAN of digital tools but the suggestion of using them in lieu of the useful meeting these folks clearly had is, to me, unutterably daft.

Never underestimate the power of the Post-it.