February 24, 2010

Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes

I'm getting involved with another Website redesign project, which led me to recommend the book Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes again.

The task we're going to tackle is to categorize the existing and future content, and in my dot.com consulting past I've used this book's Post Up and Swap Sort methods to solve that very problem.

Back in the ye olde pre-dot.com days (circa 1995) when I first wrote the Usability Methods Toolbox, we called these Affinity Diagrams and never really thought of the exercise as two distinct methods. You kind of just went at it and moved things around as you put them up.

But I now think the break between putting things up ("Post Up") and then stepping back to categorize ("Swap Sort") makes a difference. Things kind of gel in your subconscious. The categories naturally form themselves.

With the old everything-happens-at-once method you'd get some interesting conflicts when two people kept moving the same Post It from one grouping to another. I'd call out "Parking Lot!"--but I didn't mean that we'd shelve the issue to a list off to the side for future discussion.

I meant that if they didn't quit messing up my exercise, they were going to have to take it outside to the parking lot to duke it out. Of course many times the group in question were part of my martial arts crew, so this was totally understood.

Not sure if we would've been able to file for workers' comp if they did go through with my suggestion though.

Posted by jameshom at February 24, 2010 02:03 PM | TrackBack
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