You know the ones. 3M, the makers of the greatest facilitation invention ever – the post it note – decided a number of years ago to do for the flipchart what they had done for the scrap of paper: add an adhesive to it.
Now instead of taping flipchart paper up on a wall, all you have to do is peel it from a pad and affix it to a wall. Neat and tidy.
And almost completely useless.
For anyone who does any amount of creative facilitation, the only thing better than a piece of white, clean, plain flipchart paper, is a roll of white clean, flipchart paper. With plain flipchart paper you can do the following:
- Take notes on an easel
- lay it on a table top and make mind maps
- write on the back of it
- tape it in landscape portrait on a wall to make mind maps
- cut it into pieces for Open Space topics
- fold it into huge paper airplanes
- lay it on top of cafe tables for participants to write notes and draw on
- fold it up and easily separate it later
- roll it up, and unroll it again
- tape together several pieces to make a mural.
It’s amazing. You can make it bigger or smaller, tape it any which way you like and write over every part of the surface. And the stuff is pretty cheap, coming in at 50 sheets for about $12 if you buy the pads individually, 24 cents a sheet.
Contrast this to the 3M sticky post-it flipchart. On the surface, these things seem to be the miracle we have all been waiting for. But unless you are using a single sheet and hanging it in a vertical position, and not needing to do anything with it later, these beasts are compromised by all kinds of design flaws:
- You can only hang them one way without using tape.
- You cannot write on the top, because there is a glossy strip there where the adhesive was stuck on the previous sheet.
- You can’t really use the back (at least people don’t).
- you can’t roll or fold them without a mess (and sometimes an impossible sticky tangle, with ripped sheets as a result).
- You can’t place them in a heap without them sticking together, making later sorting out a massive chore.
- You can’t cut them up without first removing the sticky top
- You can’t make them into murals (see glossy strip, above)
- Not useful for cafe table tops, as they stick and you can’t write something and then rotate the sheet.
And on top of that, for all that inconvenience, they will set you back a whopping $42 for only 30 sheets. More than a DOLLAR a sheet.
So, meeting organizers, I know you are trying to be professional and innovative by buying the latest and greatest from 3M (the post-it people after all!) but please take a pass on these pads. Plain white paper wins every single time.