Post-it® Notes and Design Thinking: The Creative Problem-Solving Technique That May Change theWorld

So you think a Post-it® Note is only good for reminding you what to do or what to buy? Think again.

Post-it® Notes are at the very heart of Design Thinking — the multi-faceted approach in management circles that helps solve problems and conquers challenges. Business schools around the globe are now adding it to their list of courses. And business professors are writing books about it.

“Design thinking is a way of thinking about the world, and a way of approaching problems, with the human at its center”, explains Arriane Serafico co-founder of Designing.PH, the Wanderrgirl herself who helped draft The Philippine Design Competitiveness Act that aims to establish a national design policy for the country.


The 25-year-old good governance advocate says design thinking can be applied for both the private and public sectors. “Design thinking can allow businesses to create products and services that are more unique, engaging, and environmentally friendly. It can enable governments to be more forward-looking. It can push creativity and innovation for a country to stay globally competitive.”

Simply put, design thinking is a practical, creative resolution to solve problems or address issues to produce an improved future result. The approach blends EQ and IQ together to solve situations and achieve success.Design thinking harnesses the power of teams to work on a wide range of issues that can be applied at work, in various industries, your own life goals or even thinking up a way of designing a better Philippines.

Armed with Post-It Notes, markers and a whole lot of ideas design thinkers dare to re-design the world. Recently, 45 individuals (young and old) came up with proposed solutions to the challenge: How to Improve the Manila Tourist Experience. The 2-day Design Thinking Bootcamp looked like a “Post-it Party” as Arriane herself said, with ideas posted everywhere in the unique space of Meridian International (MINT) College, a “not your ordinary college” where “creativity, ingenuity and responsibility come together”.


“Any profession can benefit from design thinking,” Arianne adds.“And it’s not just some fancy new term of brainstorming. Ideation starts with the problem, instead of going straight to thinking about the solutions.”The first step is to start with empathy, to understand the problems from the end user’s perspective, then come up with the solution. This means listening to the concerns of clients and audiences — a stage often bypassed by teams and organizations”.

For design to be relevant, the designer must go outside the “drawing room” and experience the users’ situations and experiences. Assumptions and stereotypes won’t do. “It’s about human-centeredness, listening, observing, and being genuinely curious about the stories and values of users,” says Arianne.

Only after drawing insights from real-life observations can the next step of design thinking begin: Ideation. It is the process of brainstorming possible solutions to address the challenges faced by the users. Solving problems the same way, or by using a time-tested template won’t always work. Arriane recommends “divergent thinking” — looking at different perspectives to solve a problem, and an optimistic mindset that believes ideas will work despite signs of difficulty.

Prototyping, or bringing ideas to life, is the next step. Drawing from her three years of government experience, Arriane emphasizes the importance of letting people try an idea first and do modifications later. “I’ve seen a lot of projects which sounded good on paper, but when they are offered to the public, people don’t actually use them.”

Arianne says design thinkers must be ready to embrace modifications and accept the failure of a prototype. The key is to keep persisting and keep coming up with new ideas that will eventually solve problems from the end user’s perspective. When ideas start taking shape, a breakthrough isn’t far away, she says.


Arianne says the ideation process must be very tactile and visual. That’s why Post-It® Notes are ideal for design thinking. These multi-colored sticky papers are a staple in design thinking activities all over the world, and a favorite office and creative tool.

“My favorite part as a facilitator is letting my team members attack a wall on their own to rearrange Post-It® notes and move group ideas around while discussing them. These help form connections and allows them to build on each other’s ideas.” says Arriane.

The Play & Innovate bootcamp, in true design thinking fashion, is also one of the first prototypes for Designing.PH. To learn more about design thinking, log on to and like them on Facebook:

Post-it® is a trademark of 3M. For more information about the Post It® brand, visit and like 3M Philippines on Facebook for news and updates.

About 3M Philippines

3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs about 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit or like 3M.Philippines on Facebook for news and updates.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jerome Lupisan
    May 14, 2014 @ 12:30:40

    This is a very creative and a good alternative way to plan and make connections. I’ll bear this in mind the next time I am going conceptualize something for a personal task (like for my blog). I can see how I can make use of this as a visual tool to help my students in presenting a lesson in class, too.


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