Progress post-its: smart way to make progress visible

This week I facilitated a progress-focused session of a team of professionals from the municipality of Rotterdam. Facilitating such an unknown team in advance is often a bit exciting. You don't know who you're dealing with and you have no idea what they'll say or how they'll behave. But usually my sense of curiosity is greater than my nervousness. The reason for this is that I usually hear interesting and informative things from such a group. That was also the case that morning. Several interesting things were said that also made me think again. I will highlight one as an example.

Intention: watch progress

After we had done a starting exercise about the progress achieved and the progress to be achieved, we talked about the negativity bias. This is the human tendency to notice negative information more easily than positive. The team members found this an interesting theme and decided to pay more attention to progress monitoring on a regular basis. Several people specifically said they wanted to pay more attention to small progress they had made.

Progress Post-its

One of the team members, Henk Weij, mentioned a solution that he himself has been using for a long time. He told me that when he has made progress in something, he writes it down on a post-it note and hangs this note somewhere visible in his workplace. That way he can take a good look at it. He modestly added: “Yes, this is my amateur psychology. Sometimes things go a little less well and then a note like this helps me to see things a little more positively.”

The progress remains visible

Making progress visible is often very useful and powerful. Sometimes you can do that in conversations, sometimes you do it by thinking about it for yourself. But after you've talked or thought about it, the experience of progress can quickly fade into the background if you're not careful. Then our negativity bias takes control again. A big advantage of progress post-its is that you can keep looking at them. Smart idea!


Rodney said…
I think I'm going to create some kind of progress board in my house for my my children, wife and I to post signs of progress we see.

Coert Visser said…
Hi Rodney, Interesting. Curious how that works. Can they also write what further progress they would like to achieve?
Rodney said…
I'll have to figure out how to include that. That's a great idea!
Coert Visser said…
Maybe this is helpful:
Rodney said…
By the way, I read this today and then thought of you. It is about a topic called progress studies.
Coert Visser said…
Thank you for letting me know. I wrote this about it, at the time. (there is translat button on the site)
Rodney said…
Thank you. That's a great read. I do hope that progress-oriented studies take hold. It could accelerate progress in so many fronts that are needed today.

BTW, I see you have many books you've written in Dutch.

I tried to buy one but it seems that I must have a Dutch bank account to do so. Is there a way to purchase with a credit card.

I also tried to buy your book about the Circle Technique on Amazon but Amazon won't let me order it from my location. :)
Rodney said…
For a progress board, I wonder if a Kanban style board would help.

Once concern I had about circles is running out of space for progress in the middle. but with a Kanban, the column can extend downward for a long ways.

What do you think?

Here's how the columns might be labeled.

| Progress | Desired Progress | Later |
Coert Visser said…
Hi Rodney,
Could you send me your address (through a DM on linkedin)? I'll send you the book.
I don't know what a Kanban is. I'll look into it.