Making internal communication stick

Post-its have long been a cherished tool in the workplace, adding convenient reminders of our daily tasks via familiar yellow squares. But can the sticky notes work as a digital communication tool? One Chicago-based studio is working to make it happen.

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By Gloria Lombardi

Perhaps it is because I am the kind of person who likes jotting notes down for anything but when I first read about MINIMAL’s digital sticky note, I thought, “This could be interesting.”

The nostalic part of myself wondered, “Will the experience really be as satisfying as using the beloved old sticky note?” I decided to do my own research and see how beneficial their tool really could be in the workplace. Because – as we all know – communicators need to be as organized as possible.

Sticky Storm is the app designed by MINIMAL to allow users not only to organise their idea but also to reorganise them organically and share them with colleagues in real time. The digital stickies are simple yellow squares and in that respect very much resemble a real-life Post-it. The product’s underlying goal is to make the app emulate the physical sticky notes in their simplicity but then enhance their usefulness through connectivity.

One of the greatest appeals of traditional Post-it notes is their small size and that the they can be stuck on just about anything.

MINIMAL’s founder, Scott Wilson, recently told Fast Company’s Co.Design, “They are noncommittal. The color and size help cure ‘blank canvas paralysis.'”

In order to maintain the physical Post-it’s most likable characteristics, the new digital sticky notes have been designed with a diagonal flick so that users can save a note and extract a fresh sticky seamlessly. That way the experience resembles that of removing a sticky from a real jotter.

Taking advantage of a sticky situation

Sticky Storm includes an option to place the stickies into related groups and clusters. The relevance of this is that users are facilitated to reorganise their ideas and thinking into one place. In the digital age where creative ideas flow fast and inspirations happen on the go it is important to be able to capture them in the moment.

From the looks of it, Sticky Storm looks to be an enhancer of collaboration at work, enabling team members to work on the same set of stickies no matter where they are. The ability to export the stickies to file formats such us PowerPoint, PDF and Dropbox promises to be a real time-saver as opposed to the old-fashioned way of transcribing colleagues’ scribble from the paper cubes. There would also be less of chance of innovative ideas getting stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe. And of course, less clutter on cubicle walls leaving more room for photos of spouses and family pets.

When contacted by simply-communicate for a demo and trial run of Sticky Storm, MINIMAL said the app is still in the development and concept phase but encouraged anyone interested to view the video below for more information. Discussing his new offering, MINIMAL founder Scott Wilson told simply, “Sticky notes are still a tough paradigm to beat for their spontaneous flexibility and with stickies the collective ideas are many times more important than the individual note. We wanted to maintain the impulsive nature as best we could while alleviating some pain points as well as adding some extremely useful features that only a digitally connected platform could offer.”


Communicators we spoke with were intrigued by the idea of a digital Post-it note but were wary of some potential limitations.

Wedge, a business communicator and intranet specialist, commented, “Anyone who needs to plan or develop solutions might enjoy using Sticky Storm; the grouping of notes and the sharing/collaborative features seem very useful. This app isn’t about notes for reminding yourself or colleagues; it’s about developing, sharing, and grouping ideas so as to discover links and greater ideas. The approach to organizing the notes around a topic is very impressive and changes how you view the ideas.”

The IC Crowd co-founder and internal comms consultant Rachel Miller said, “I’m always keen to explore new ways to encourage internal communications professionals to curate and create ideas. My gut feel is that it’s solving a problem that didn’t really exist – there’s nothing stopping IC pros from using post-it notes in a similar way. However, it goes a step beyond by digitising the process. I like the apparent ease of use that Sticky Storm has, so yes I think given the right conditions such as access to the technology to use it, it could have a place as a digital IC tool. From first glance I think it has three benefits: ability to permanently capture thoughts, you wouldn’t lose one after a brainstorming session as they are electronic and I like the fact you can invite colleagues to comment and collaborate…I’d be keen to try it, but as someone who has shelves full of notepads and mindmaps, I have a feeling I would always be attracted by the lure of a stationery shop and paper post-its. Saying that, I have been pleasantly surprised by Pinterest and think that private boards open it up to be a digital IC tool, so will watch with interest to see what happens with Sticky Storm.

According to Tony Stewart, Consultant, Digital Communications at VMA Group, “The Sticky Storm looks like a very creative way to collect and share visual ideas, and I can see a great potential for stickys to help pull together concepts in the early development of projects and campaigns. Certainly the digital platform provides a creative and visual way for those in disparate work places or always on the move, to share ideas and early concepts. I know from my own experience, it would be incredibly useful to keep my sticky-notes with me as I move around the city!”

He added, “As an Internal Communications tool, given that the interface is primarily tablets or large-screen smart-phones, I wonder whether employees in many businesses would have access to these devices regular enough to really make the most of Sticky Storm – one would guess it’s not available on most of the Blackberry work phones people use! And as such message sharing could be quite limited. But there could be enormous potential if integrated with Enterprise Social Networks or Intranets, that employees could create and share notes and early designs for projects via stickys, and help inform next steps and provide feedback at this development stage.

Post-it notes are incredibly useful, and they litter my desk regularly. Their immediacy and accessibility is second to none, and I wonder if I would grab an ipad, unlock it, open the app and then start drawing when I already have a physical post-it note and pen ready to use on my desk, poised for any eventuality! But I’d love the opportunity to experiment and explore how I could use Sticky Storm to compliment my Evernote, social media and enterprise social applications– the visual nature of the stickys make them a great way to develop creative ideas!”

Will Sticky Storm take off inside organizations? We’ll be keeping an eye on the app and look forward to testing it out when it officially launches. Meanwhile, MINIMAL encourages those interested in learning more about the product to sign up for their notification page to stay connected to the latest launch and release news.