This article will explain to you what the best sticky notes for retrospectives are and why. You will find a huge amount of different sticky note types. From simple yellow post-it notes to cheap (and non sticking) Chinese 1€ notes to funny shaped notes. But most of them are barely functional, but definitely not the best solution for your next retrospective.
What makes great retrospective notes?
Retrospectives are quite common in the IT industry these days. With the rise of agile practices like Scrum, Kanban and XP, more and more teams want to unlock the “superpower” of continuous improvement. Retrospectives are a practice that is so useful, that it is now regularly practiced in other business areas. If you are searching for the best sticky notes for use in an retrospective, what criteria would you use? We go for these:
The format of the notes should be simple and big enough.
Simple means not shaped in strange forms that draw to much attention away from the content. A simple rectangular shape is very suitable. As scrum master you can use the funny notes to spice your retrospective a bit up, but don’t use them for gathering insights.
Big enough means enough space so you can write on them with markers instead of pens (else you can’t really read them from 2-3m distance). You should also stay away from ultra large formats.They have their place in some workshop formats, but take up to much space in retrospectives when grouping inputs from several people together. So what is the recommended size? 127x76mm (5x3in) with the glue on the long side, as this the best compromise.
Coloured sticky notes can be used to classify input and easily transport meaning. They also look much more engaging than plain vanilla post-it notes. Neon Colours are bright but still give enough contrast when you write on them. But there is a catch! They must be distinguishable. Some neon colours are very similar (try to distinguish Neon Yellow and Neon Green/Lime from 3-5m distance. It’s hard…) and tend to get mixed up and therefore tend to loose there meaning. We don’t recommend the non neon sticky notes as they look … boring, even a bit sad.
So which colours should you go for? Use the “traffic light palette”: Green, Orange, Red. Everybody on this planet knows what they symbolize and due to the shades used for green and red, even red-green colour blind people can distinguish them.
Beware: Some sticky note blocks combine those colours into ONE stack. This is definitively not helpful. You would need to rip the stack apart just to sort the colours out that you want.
A sticky note must first of all stick. Sadly this is not the case with lots of cheap sticky notes. If the surface you stick them on is not ideal, it is actually even better to go for super sticky notes. They will stay sticky even when you reposition them a few times and won’t fall of the wall when you walk past (huh…where was that note again?). So go super sticky. (Again: Don’t go super cheap + super sticky. We have seen sticky notes that sticked so well together that they were essentially glued together. Not helpful and not worth a penny!)
But wait! There are a few reusable electrostatic notes out there that look interesting. True. But people soon notice three drawbacks: They only stick on smooth surfaces – ok. They are hard to clean when the markers are dried down – dirty notes don’t look so inspiring anymore. And … you HAVE to clean them or waste these very expensive notes. Go and spend your time cleaning 50 or more notes after a retro. If you do that, I bet you are not generating much value for your organisation…
Ever found yourself ripping post-it blocks apart to make smaller blocks for your team members? And after the meeting you stick them back together to not waste them (hoping they are still sticky enough). It would be very helpful if this was not needed. An idea would be to have lots of smaller blocks. This functionality is called “easy share” and is actually available – but only with one brand. A block of Particinotes holds 100 Sheets (not 90 like some of the sneaky “prize optimized” brands) and is not really a block but a “stack of 10 mini blocks with 10 sheets”. So 1 Particinotes block can easily be handed out to 10 participants (perfect fit as Scrum teams should only have 7 ± 2 members).
What are the best sticky notes for retrospectives?
Well the answer must be Particinotes by teamwork supplies:
Particinotes are the only self adhesive notes with easy share functionality and tick all the other boxes as they are available in a big enough (127mm x 76mm) size, come in “traffic light” neon colours and are super sticky. No wonder as Particinotes have been invented by a Scrum master to use for himself. Surprisingly they are also quite affordable, with prices below 2,5€ per block (well below if you buy the large box called “The STASH”).
The box you see in the picture above is quite sturdy and very handy when it comes to storing the remaining mini-blocks after a retrospective. The plastic wrapping with the logo is also resealable and helps organizing the leftovers.
Buy Particinotes, and know you got the best sticky notes for retrospectives. Click here to check them out. You get them at: