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Creativity on DemandThe Dilemmas of Innovation in an Accelerated Age$
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Eitan Y. Wilf

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226606835

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226607023.001.0001

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The Post-it Note Economy

The Post-it Note Economy

Understanding Post-Fordist Business Innovation

(p.101) Four The Post-it Note Economy
Creativity on Demand

Eitan Y. Wilf

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the most ubiquitously used material artifact in business innovation, the Post-it note. It argues that Post-it notes have become ubiquitous in design thinking because they enable innovators to quickly generate insights in line with post-Fordist ideals of speed. First, Post-it notes enable innovators to produce pseudo-data and to decouple data from the market under the guise of its reflection. In the course of the innovation process, innovators represent data about consumers by means of a series of textual artifacts of decreasing dimensions until the data are represented in the form of single words and even single graphic sketches on single Post-it notes. This kind of representation results in decontextualization and pragmatic ambiguity. Once the innovator loses the context, he or she can move through the ideation phase more quickly. Second, Post-it notes’ weak adhesive properties enable the innovator to arrange such pseudo-data on conventional visual templates of what a valid insight should look like such as a two-by-two matrix or a Venn diagram. The experimentation with Post-it notes on such templates results in a quickly generated “ritual insight,” i.e. an insight that receives its validity from the conventional prestige of the readymade visual template that underlies it.

Keywords:   Post-it note, design thinking, decontextualization, pseudo-data, ritual, insights, templates, post-Fordism, pragmatic ambiguity, innovation

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