I’ve just returned from an emergency stationery meeting with our Office Manager here at Pancentric, the fabulous Deby.
The topic of said emergency?
We need more Post-it notes!
This has been a recurring meeting of late, with the item of stationery in question on rotation. Sometimes it’s Post-it notes, sometimes it’s Sharpies, and sometimes it’s huge great rolls of paper, metres long.
We’re going back to basics. Stepping away from the screen, and from our desks altogether. And re-entering the tactile world. Where collaboration blossoms, and ideas breed.
It started with Agile, many moons ago at Pancentric. A collaborative approach to the running of a project, where a multidisciplinary team work closely together in short bursts of activity.
There’s a great deal more to the Agile Methodology that I won’t touch on here, but the really good bit is the Kanban board. This is essentially just a big, public to do list, where each bite size task of an Agile project is written on an index card, and moved along as it’s knocked out the park.
A Kanban board as it lives and breathes here at Pancentric
This real world visibility of tasks means the whole team, and any other passing Tom, Dick or Harry, has a continual overview of where the project is at. And it means that every member of the team gets to experience the joyous moment of moving an ‘In progress’ ticket into the ‘Ready for testing’ column.
The natural high of ticking something off your to do list is not to be sniffed at.
Even the Sprint Burndown chart, which shows the project velocity (and is my favourite thing about Agile), has made its way onto the white board for all to see. What used to be buried away in some digital file, or convoluted software, is now laid bare on the office wall, often with a slice of pizza drawn at the finish line to spur us on. (which works a treat).
It’s happy days when we’re ahead of the target
To top this little lot off, my awesome colleague Dave Talbot
takes this real world approach to task management one step further. Recreating a mini Kanban board on his desk, as a visual way of tracking and communicating his own progress across multiple projects.
This is Dave’s desk. Complete with baby cactus.
There are a ton load of to-do list apps out there with reminders, and even gamification. But frankly, ticking something off a paper list, or moving it along the board is all the more simple, sharable and satisfying. In my humble opinion.
Stepping away from the screen is not just about project efficiencies, visibility and collaboration though. The real world is also a hugely creative space. Don’t you know?
So, here’s the other source of post-it note demand. Design Thinking is a problem solving methodology that is fast becoming our ethos here at Pancentric.
It’s very premise is getting everyone away from their screens, into a collaborative space, and using imagination, intuition and conversation to drive ideas and innovation.
The Design Thinking tools, exercises and environment help to open peoples’ minds and see things differently. This generally involves lots of scribbling on post-it notes, drawing with coloured pens (remember everyone can draw, I guarantee it), and animated discussion.
Here’s our Joe getting creative. On his hands and knees no less.
The key to a successful session is to get everyone drawing from the word go. Intimidating for some I know. But as soon as participants put pen to paper, have a bit of fun, and make a few mistakes, that’s the moment that creativity begins its gradual unlocking, and ideas start emerging.
Design Thinking is about failing, and learning, then failing again, and learning some more. And needless to say, that requires a fair few post-it notes, each a crucial building block towards something very exciting.
You have half of an idea, somebody else has the other half, and if you’re in the right environment, they turn into something larger than the sum of their parts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shut down our machines, be they on our desks, pockets or wrists, and make a beeline to Ryman.
It’s more of an observation that, shock horror, the real world has value too.
Not only for retaining some level of social skills, but because face to face interactions can be far more efficient, innovative and enjoyable than a row of mac (or PC) monkeys emailing one another from 2 feet away.
But a word of warning, you may need to update the stationery order