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Use The Post It Note Method To Design Your Business Systems

I often have builders who tell me that their team members just don’t do things the way they do. It’s disconcerting for them because it threatens the reputation they have built up over the years. Further it prevents them growing a team that can work without the being there to oversee every action.  

team doesn't do things the way I do things
“Why can’t my team do things they way I do things?”

Know the feeling?

Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to get your team doing things your way? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could pass onto them your experience so they didn’t need to make your mistakes? And even better if you could get this happening company wide. Because then you could expand your business knowing that your quality standards and efficiencies were going to be maintained.

A company manual – a set of instructions and checklists that you could give to a new team member and know that by following it to the letter they would replicate you on the job – and your reputation would be safe.

But how to go about creating such a system? Do you need to hire an expert to produce a multi volume instructional handbook? Not really. Not yet anyway –  although it would be nice to have one do it all for you.

One of my clients told me he was spending huge amounts of time supervising his team while they were renovating bathrooms. There was good money to be made in bathroom renovations, but the time it took supervising them ate up much of the profits and worked against his quoting on larger jobs. So he came up with a simple and straightforward system to create the company bathroom manual and reduce the time he spent supervising.

I call it the Post-It Note Method. Here’s how it works.

1  List all the Steps

First you gather together your team and get them to list all the tasks involved in getting a particular job done. Use post-it notes of one colour (e.g. red) and get them to write each task on a separate post-it note. Don’t worry about the order of the tasks, just make a point of covering all the steps in the job.

2  Organise Logically

On a whiteboard, painted wall or fridge door (or anything smooth for that matter) stick the post-it notes. Arrange them vertically in the order that you would normally follow doing this job. If you need several columns, leave a gap between the columns for another column of post-it notes.

3  Checklist Points

In every job there are several points where it is a good idea to check your work before you proceed. For example you may want to check that your foundation is in the correct position before you pour the concrete. You might want your team to check that your frames are square and correctly placed before you fire up the Ramset!

These checkpoints are the places where it’s possible to correct small errors, that if left unchecked, could have huge consequences down the track. These errors may only take a moment to correct now, but could be very costly later on. Some of these checkpoints may coincide with council inspections check points.

Mark these checkpoint with a post-it note of another colour (eg. yellow) and write the name of the checklist on the post-it note. Stick the post-it note on the wall beside the appropriate task.

Identifying these places before you begin to create your task instructions ensures that your instructions are directed towards achieving a desired outcome.

4  Create Instructions

Now comes the fun part. Starting with the checklist in mind decide on the lists of instructions necessary for you team to proceed to the next checklist. Give each list of instruction a name and write the name on a post-it note of another colour (eg. blue). Place these (blue) post-it notes on the whiteboard beside the first task in each step of the process.  

You have now mapped out your system for this job.

Here is an example of a simple bathroom remodeling system using red, yellow and blue post-it notes.

5  Assign

Once you have created your post-it note system, assign a team member to each checklist (yellow) and each instruction list (blue) and have them write these for you. This need not be complex. In fact the simpler the better. Creating them can be as simple listing the things they do – as they do them.

Don’t include general building skill, rather just include the particular things you want done to do it your way and the order you want them done.


Using the post-it note method is a simple way to get your team involved in helping you overcome a time consuming issue. Further by having them involved in setting it up, they are more likely to work it through.

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