The Power of Stickies

I’ve been meaning to put together a post since last week. A few weeks back I attended a meeting, a postmortem of sorts about the Perforce consulting engagement. Mike McGarr called the meeting and lead it with a fairly effective, yet unusual approach. He used the [Power of Stickies|] to get people to communicate and share their thoughts.

Let me set the stage. So we were all in the DevOps lounge on the 6th floor. Mike had moved our common table close the center of the room so that we could sit in a semi-circle. The 1 exposed side was up against the wall, but with enough space for anyone to walk back there, or for Mike to post a note on the wall on our behalf.

Each person was given a couple post-it-note pads and a pen. Mike asked each person to write as much as they could on the good and the bad from the engagement with Perforce. I remember asking how much notes he wanted us to write. His response was pretty cool. Basically he said write until you have no more thoughts. He associated the process of note writing to popcorn popping. We would be done, essentially when we had no more notes to write…aka when there are no more kernels to pop.

So we spent about 10 to 15 minutes where each of us was writing piles and piles of notes. I remember thinking while writing that I had a lot of positives and only 1 or 2 negatives. For some instinctual reason I wanted to equal the pot of feedback out. I think I had 8 or 9 positives, so of course my attention was then directed to trying to think of 6 or 7 additional negatives. Then we went around the room and started posting our stickies. If someone had written an identical or similar sticky, we would simply post the stickies together. I found myself writing additional ideas (extra kernels) as others were speaking/sharing their stickies.

What I Liked About the Stickies

My number one thought was that the sticky gave everyone (introverted or extroverted) the power to share their thoughts. It forced everyone into a new zone of comfort or some might say discomfort. Second, it got people to share some pretty tough thoughts. For example, one team member wrote down that they were disappointed in a few teammates for not committing themselves to being on-site and engaged during the week of consulting. I don’t think that comment would have come out so directly if the person thinking it didn’t write it down first. It was almost like the stickies provided a degree of protection. Most importantly everyone was engaged. That’s tough to do when running a meeting!

Kudos to Mike and the team for this very innovative approach to communication…


One thought on “The Power of Stickies

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