The Post It note. The small unassuming sticky note that gets screwed up and thrown at the wall when your brain just won’t come up with the ideas that will change the world.
I’ve been there, many, many times. In fact over the last ten years, I’ve probably used millions of Post It notes. But only because I changed my attitude towards them when I realised just how pivotal they were to the innovation we drive in our business. When I stopped seeing them as a throw away, and valued them as a route to freethinking, our ability to innovate accelerated.
You see the Post It note offers such versatility:
Reality check and a way to differentiate
It’s very easy to think the customer doesn’t get something when you receive uncomplimentary feedback, rather than try and change their experience. We started to use Post Its to capture these ‘frustrations’ as ‘ideas’. They now act as a living reminder of the things we could do to differentiate our brand, as invariably they are things that the industry could do better as a whole. Since focusing effort this way we’ve developed a proposition that makes us stand out in the market and attracts customers.
They help you prioritise and shortcut innovation
You can’t fix everything. It doesn’t make business sense, so every time an ‘idea’ was repeated we added it to the pile. The more Post Its on the pile the bigger the urgency and the greater the prize. We now focus on the things that will make a difference to the many, not the few, and those that will help us reach our target segment and, most importantly, keep them happy when they become a client.
They are your flexible friend
We invested in a 10ft floor to ceiling whiteboard where we put the ideas that are going through to the innovation stage. This gives us the space to visualise the ideas further, draw links, brainstorm solutions, cluster similar ideas, and see things that had been staring us in the face. It’s at this stage we do our best thinking.
That’s just three reasons why I love the Post It, and I could go on. But I think they show that as a nation of entrepreneurs we’d innovate more if we took the humble Post-It more seriously. Technology is at the heart of everything we do, and all innovation is underpinned by a system or a process. But it’s the simplicity of the Post It, not the technology itself, that unlocks our thinking and captures the imagination in a way no other business tool can, and that’s why, innovators of Britain, I believe it’s time we gave the Post It a hug.
By James Poyser, co-founder of inniAccounts and winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation