It starts simple. There’s a beauty in being concise. A sticky note allows people to share ideas in an easily accessible format, but it also forces them to focus on what they really want to say. We don’t need an essay from Frank about how we should add the color fuchsia as an option to the product. In fact, he doesn’t need to write anything at all, just add a fuchsia-colored sticky note to the board.

Then discussion begins. Voting or moving the post-its around the wall or board starts the process of organizing our thoughts together. This helps with clarifying the team’s definition, focus, and understanding of each other. This process also keeps meetings shorter, more engaging, and inclusive. Differing communication styles can be respected and supported in this format.

We can change the colors to mean different things. Our minds instantly correlate that color and the meaning. So, this quick glance is multi-dimensional. Instead of staring into an abyss of complex problems, we simplify the issues which free our minds to be innovative. Brainstorming, ideating, and creating an infinite array of possibilities.

Another amazing quality of the sticky note is the flexibility. Being able to move it multiple times as you discover things. When we start grouping things we can see correlations and connections. Patterns bubble up and reveal a truth, solutions. You can draw lines to connect the cards, adding more dimensions if needed.

notes crumpled on floor and trash

And then everyone leaves and no one remembers the conclusions. Good meeting team. Or some lucky person is left behind to type up the bits and organize them in a task manager. And the next session? Abandoned or discarded ideas come roaring back onto the board to add distraction.

Oh, and half of the team is remote or hybrid. Where’s Steve? Is his mic not working? Right…Laura is here on Tuesdays, not today. I’m sure we can get their feedback later. Remote work is here to stay, sorry micromanagers. We are increasingly getting work done online, and are happier with the flexibility. However, this can lead to frustrating team dynamics, inequities, and feeling disconnected. This is why using a visual online tool to collaborate is crucial. No matter where your team is located, by using a real-time collaboration tool like Cardsmith, everyone has a voice.

There are a lot of productivity and brainstorming tools online. Cardsmith is unique for a few reasons. The major one? Being able to switch from a freeform brainstorming session to an organized grid that can be exported to whatever Henry’s favorite bug tracker he uses. Joe will ONLY use Excel, no discussion. Sarah found a cool tool from the Netherlands that she likes that no one can pronounce. Why does this matter? Because the future of work is about flexibility. Allowing your team to flourish as individuals with unique qualities and preferences.

kanban with dependencies cardsmith template board example

Cardsmith adds much more value than simply exporting. You can also easily copy the rows or cards to a new board so you can focus on your specific tasks. Highlight the roadmap. Turn it into a calendar. Kick off a retrospective or next sprint with previous data intact. And, of course, the Kanban board. Having your data to move around as you please. Without the mess of the falling notes on the floor left behind. Without forcing the team member that drew the short stick to retype everything over and over.

These shortcuts save time and help keep everyone aligned and happy. Because a tool to solve problems shouldn’t get in your way. You shouldn’t have to “introduce” a new brainstorming tool, forcing your team to learn before they contribute to a creative session. A visual problem-solving tool should be easy to use, have no learning curve, and be flexible. Like sticky notes.