How Sticky Notes Help Capture Key Ideas of Competitive Intelligence

By James D. Underwood

A major data-mining investigation as part of your competitive intelligence research may yield more than a thousand articles, and you’re not likely to remember what each article covers a few days after reading it. Unless you have total recall, you probably won’t remember much of what you read even a few hours or a few minutes after reading it!

A great way to improve your retention and help refresh your memory later is to write a sticky-note summary of each article you read and store your summary along with a copy of the article. You can do this whether you’re using a paper system or storing articles electronically, although in the case of electronic files, a sticky-note summary is more commonly referred to as metadata.

Take the following steps to create and use sticky-note summaries and/or metadata:

  1. Perform your three-pass review of the article.

  2. Copy or scan the article or item you’re indexing (or at least its title page).

  3. Compose your sticky-note summary, being careful to use descriptive keywords.

  4. Stick your summary to the front of the article or add it to your database entry for the article.

    If you’re working on a project that has numerous articles, create stacks of articles based on your classification of each article (competitors, technologies, customers, products, and so on).

    When using a paper filing system, if an article applies to two or more categories, file the cover page with your sticky-note summary under the primary category it applies to, copy the title page with the sticky-note summary on it, and file it under other categories it applies to.