2014: The Year of the … Sticky Note!

English: Concept art for the Wikipedia:Wikiped...

English: Concept art for the Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Sticky notes idea. The user clicked “sticky note” (see it next to “edit”), then they highlighted some text. After choosing a colour, the sticky indicator appeared, along with a box in the margin for him/her to leave a comment. The wikipage used in this example is an older version of the “other views” section of the “Apathy” page. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a...

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. Although now available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, Post-it notes are most commonly a 3-inch (76 mm) square, canary yellow in color. A unique low-tack adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached and removed without leaving marks or residue, unless used on white boards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"Black-white 2 Vista" icon theme

“Black-white 2 Vista” icon theme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s right, the year of the sticky note.

The year that the new, highly sophisticated management system of #MBSN becomes mainstream.

Tom Peters has MBWA — Managing By Wandering Around — and we have #MBSN – Managing By Sticky Notes.

Why sticky notes?

Because sticky notes make your ideas portable and your thinking visible to others, two essential skills for leaders and managers in today’s fast-paced environment.

The magic behind this sticky note obsession is actually collaboration and participation. We believe that in order to buy-in, people have to weigh-in. Sticky notes and other collaboration tools help us connect people to work together on shared goals. That means engagement, alignment, inclusivity, the wisdom of the crowd, and yes even a little fun. That means we can tackle bigger opportunities and solve bigger problems, together.

Sometimes it can go overboard, even for me. Watch this little clip to see how it got out of hand…

The point is that to thrive in this rapidly changing and complex environment we need all of the help we can get. Some are saying that the collaboration curve is quickly replacing the experience curve. Who you know and how you collaborate with them will quickly supplant what you know. (See the HBR article, Introducing the Collaboration Curve by John Hagel, John Seely-Brown, and Lang Davison). We have definitely found this to be true in our work with organizations and our own membership at the MACPA.

Sticky Notes are just the beginning. We have been working over the last year with some technology platforms that support our collaboration obsession. Conferences.io is an interactive conference and learning platform that allows social Q&A, interactive and shared polling that we are using in our town halls, conferences and other learning activities (See my post, A New Era In Talent Development and Learning).

Our Thinktank collaboration platform by Group Systems allows us to go deep into collaboration virtually, live or in a mixed virtual/live setting. Thinktank allows for a deeper level of collaboration and can quickly rank, prioritize, and graph participant’s responses. One of the features I like best is that it allows for “parallel processing” as participants can all enter thoughts and brainstorms simultaneously, saving lots of time and allowing anonymity when desired.

Together these tools combined with our team of trained facilitators, allows us to work collaboratively in ways never before imagined.

Here are some examples of our work with sticky notes and structured collaboration from our work at the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute.

So join me in our declaration that 2014 is officially the year of the Sticky Note! 2014 is the year of collaboration and working together.

With thanks to our friends at 3M and their famous post-it notes.

Post-it note

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Post-it note

Logo of the brand
Product type Stationerypaper
Owner 3M
Country Cynthiana, Kentucky, U.S.
Introduced 1980
Website 3m.com

A small pad of lined Post-it Brand notes.

Post-It notes on a wall

Post-it note (or Sticky Note) is a piece of paper stationery with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. Although now available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, Post-it notes are most commonly a 3-inch (76 mm) square, canary yellow in color. A unique low-tack adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached and removed without leaving residue.

Post-it notes were invented by 3M‘s Art Fry, using an adhesive developed by a colleague,Spencer Silver. Until the 1990s, when the patent expired, they were produced only in the 3M plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky. Although other companies now produce sticky or repositionable notes, most of the world’s Post-it Brand notes are still made in Cynthiana.

The term “Post-it” and the canary yellow color are registered trademarks of 3M. “Sticky Note”, likewise, is a trademark of Société Bic. Generic terms for competitors include “repositionable notes” and “repositional notes”. To take advantage of the success of the brand, 3M manufactures other products related to the Post-it concept.




In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive, but instead he accidentally created a “low-tack”, reusable,pressure-sensitive adhesive[1][2] that has been characterized as “a solution without a problem”.[3] For five years, Silver promoted his invention within 3M, both informally and through seminars, but without much success. In 1974, a colleague of his, Art Fry, who had attended one of Silver’s seminars, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.[4][5] Fry then developed the idea by taking advantage of 3M’s officially sanctioned “permitted bootlegging” policy.[5] 3M launched the product in stores in 1977 in four cities under the name “Press ‘n Peel”, but its results were disappointing.[6][7] A year later, in 1978, 3M issued free samples to residents of Boise, Idaho, and 94 percent of the people who tried them said that they would buy the product.[6] On April 6, 1980, the product debuted in US stores as “Post-It Notes”.[8] In 1981, Post-its were launched inCanada and Europe.[9]

In 2003, the company came out with Post-it Brand Super Sticky notes, with a stronger glue that adheres better to vertical and non-smooth surfaces.[10]

Standard Post-it Brand notes have only partial adhesive coating on the back, along one edge. Similar products are used for specialized purposes with full adhesive coating; the US Post Office uses such yellow address labels to forward mail.

The yellow color was chosen by accident; a lab next-door to the Post-it team only had scrap yellow paper, which the team initially used.[11]

Use in art[edit]

Post-it notes used to make a mosaic

“The Yellow Stickee Diary of a Mad Secretary”, by Rosa Maria Arenas, is the mini graphic journal of an office worker/artist, exhibited July 7 – August 25, 2013, at the Michigan Institute of Contemporary Art (MICA) Gallery in Lansing, Michigan. The 41 drawings displayed are a tiny percentage of the more than 2000 original drawings that constitute the Yellow Stickee Diary Project which Arenas created while working temp jobs from 1994 to 2005. Printed with archival inks on archival paper, the reproductions include “stickee sized” (3″ x 5″) framed prints and enlargements of the original drawings (which were all done on post-it notes).[12]

In 2012, Turkish artist Ardan Özmenoglu was selected to have a solo exhibition at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in the art district of Chelsea, Manhattan. The exhibition, titled “E Pluribus Unum” (Latin for “Out of many, one”), opened November 15, 2012 and featured large scale works on Post-it notes.[13]

In 2004, Paola Antonelli, a curator of architecture and design, included Post-it notes in a show entitled “Humble Masterpieces”.

Rebecca Murtaugh, a California artist who uses Post-it notes in her artwork, in 2001 created an installation by covering her whole bedroom with $1000 worth of the notes, using the ordinary yellow for objects she saw as having less value and neon colors for more important objects, such as the bed.[10]

In 2000 the 20th anniversary of Post-it notes was celebrated by having artists create artworks on the notes. One such work, by the artist R. B. Kitaj, sold for £640 in an auction, making it the most valuable Post-it note on record.[14]

Use in technology[edit]

Analogues of Post-it notes have also been used in technology in the form of desktop notes which are computer applications developed to allow users to put virtual notes on their computer desktop. These computerized versions of Post-it notes include 3M’s own “Post-it Brand Software Notes”, “Stickies” in Mac OS, “Sticky Notes” in Windows,[15] or other non-free applications like ShixxNOTE.[16]Additionally, some web applications have developed Post-it sort notes for online use.


  1. Jump up^ Spencer Silver: The guy with the glue
  2. Jump up^ Donnelly, Tim (23 August 2012). “9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake”Inc. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  3. Jump up^ “About Post-it® Brand”. Retrieved 2013-02-12. “The Post-it® Note was invented as a solution without a problem: Dr. Spencer Silver developed a special, repositionable adhesive, but the 3M scientist didn’t know what to do with his discovery.”
  4. Jump up^ “Inventor of the Week: Art Fry and Spencer Silver”MIT. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  5. Jump up to:a b Petroski, Henry (1992). The Evolution of Useful Things. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 84–86. ISBN 0-679-41226-3.OCLC 24906856.
  6. Jump up to:a b Art Fry and Spencer Silver. “First Person: ‘We invented the Post-it Note’”FT Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  7. Jump up^ TV.accesshollywood.com
  8. Jump up^ “Spencer Silver”. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  9. Jump up^ “The Evolution of the Post-it Note”. 3M. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  10. Jump up to:a b Green, Penelope (2007-07-03). “The all-purpose note that stuck”International Herald Tribune.
  11. Jump up^ “Why Are Post-it Notes Yellow?”. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  12. Jump up^ http://www.micagallery.org/the-yellow-stickee-diary-of-a-mad-secretary-july-august-2013-show/
  13. Jump up^ “Ardan Ozmenoglu “E PLURIBUS UNUM”: Nov 15 – Dec 15”. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  14. Jump up^ “Post-it Note raises £640”BBC News. 2000-12-27. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
  15. Jump up^ “Windows 7 Features ‘Sticky Notes'”. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  16. Jump up^ “ShixxNOTE network enabled sticky notes program”. Retrieved 2012-02-23.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Post-it notes.


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