Then What? Next Steps for Diagnosis After StickyLand Exercise

This blog post goes over the stickyland exercise which uses stickynotes to create a visual map of work the group is doing. As stated there, a visual representation of our work can be a good entry to diagnose gaps in our work and to ID areas where the most energy is going.  If you feel the group structure/mission etc. is in a place where it needs some evaluation and discussion, this exercise can be a good launching off place.  So you have made a map of all your work – now what ?

I particularly like starting conversations about mission and structure from a place that acknowledges all the work that people are already doing – because most people at the meeting are working hard and it can be threatening to feel like that work is not acknowledged or seen.  It is also a great reality check – this is the work that is actually happening – does it actually reflect the mission? And if part of your meeting is going to visioning new areas of work – you can reality check your sticky map and ask – what area of work has to give to allow us to do this other, new work?

If you are creating the Stickyland map of your work with a main goal of diagnosing the work that your group is doing, you can use colored stickies to represent key information – some examples:

  • Yellow=large priority for me Orange=medium priority for me Green=low priority for me Pink=work I am not doing but would like to explore more
  • Yellow=areas I have a leadership role Orange=areas I have a contributing role
  • Or different campaigns can each have their own color – Yellow=youth outreach Orange=local policy work Pink=national policy work, etc. Work that does not have a defined campaign area would be an “Other” color.

Here are some questions you can discuss as a group:

  • What do you notice about the layout of the stickies?
    • Things to notice – are there a lot of stickies under one subject? Is that subject the most important thing? Where are there fewer stickies?
    • Sometimes the size/number of the stickies doesn’t reflect the actual amount of time/energy going into a project– any thing to note along those lines?
  • Is the work we’re actually doing reflective of our mission and goals?
  • Does the distribution of work feel fair? Are there any concerns that rise up when you look at this wall?
  • What’s missing?
  • Is there anything surprising or new to you on the wall?
  • What are big conversations or questions that this wall brings up for you?
  • Are there divisions present in the group that this brings up?
  • Are people linking across categories? How many people are working on each project?
  • Does the work as it’s shown here allow time for planning, budget work, big picture discussions?
  • What work is most important? What important things are getting pushed aside for urgent things? How does this affect our work? (I particularly like Stephen Covey’s Time Management Grid for framing this sort of thinking

After you have discussed some of these questions, as a facilitator try and pull out some of the key themes that need further discussion. A great way to dig into a bunch of topics like this is the Bus Stop Exercise!

Work doesn’t happen in stickies, obviously, this isn’t the only way to discuss our work – but I think it’s so important to take a step back and actually discuss our work – who is doing it and why – and how it relates to our stated mission and goals.


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