To Sticky Note or NOT Sticky Note for Strategic Planning?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on May 6, 2019

My client emphatically declared, “We don’t want to do all those Post-its at our strategic planning retreat.”

Gulp.  Every facilitator on the planet uses sticky notes – especially during strategic planning!

I asked for a bit more clarification as to WHY he didn’t like using sticky notes.  He responded, “Sticky notes are just tactical actions that aren’t really strategic.  We want to do strategic planning.”

Ahhhh…now I understand!  Using sticky notes is a great way to solicit ideas from all the team members and then to quickly organize them in categories.  The categories then become the strategic initiatives. Perfect for when the team isn’t really thinking strategically (yet), or perhaps this is the first time they have ever been through the strategic planning process.  Stickies are also useful when the group is too large to have a meaningful, strategic conversation.

So now I’ll have to design a process where they will NOT use stickies!

In this case, I recommended that the team do some pre-reading on strategic issues facing their industry, and survey their customers and employees (thankfully, they had already done that recently).  Then they should take each of the high level topics/critical issues and conduct a few focus groups to discuss the current state, the desired state, and the opportunities to close the gaps.

Once the organization does all this prep work, then we can have a strategic conversation with a small group that doesn’t involve sticky notes.


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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