The Post-it Plan Challenge

Are you in 2019 planning mode? Most of us are.

If you’re like most people, you value impact, efficiency, and working smarter. You probably also don't want to wallow in stress this year - you may even want to enjoy your work ;)

So how do we ensure the plans we craft now include the right set of priorities that will move us to the right goals in the best way?

There are many great tools for creating effective annual plans. Before going there, we suggest taking 60 minutes with your team to take The Post-it Plan Challenge.

It’s engaging, easy, a great team builder, and could have a significant impact on whatever strategy or plan you choose to adopt, as well as how it feels to act on it. All you need are sharpies, post-its, a laptop, and a desire to explore and collaborate.

Here’s how you do it:

STEP ONE (5min): What is most important to you?

Hand out sharpies and stacks of post-its. Have each team member take 5 minutes solo to reflect on two questions:

What words or short phrases most clearly articulate what everything we do as a team or organization should be aimed at achieving this year? Examples include Growth, Build Capacity, New Markets, and Innovation. We call these ‘doing’ words.

What words most clearly articulate how we should do whatever we choose to do as a team or organization? Examples include Intentional, Fast, Slow, and Methodical. We call these ‘being’ words.

Encourage team members not to try to get it ‘right.’ Instead, see what comes organically.

STEP TWO (20min): What is most important to us?

Arrange all your post-its on a table, wall or chart. Each team member gets 2 minutes to give color to their choices and field questions from other team members. At this point, no one is allowed to say No or to share what they think about someone else’s ideas. The goal is to flesh out, reflect and understand.

Now comes discussion and constructive debate. Work together as a team to choose one essential ‘doing’ principle and one essential ‘being’ principle for the year (or quarter, or any time period you have identified). Do not shy away from areas of difference. Engaging tensions constructively often leads to better results.

STEP THREE (20min): How will we apply our principles?

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Now that each team member has had the chance to reflect on what is most important to them, and the team has chosen its core ‘doing’ and ‘being’ principles for the year, it’s time to apply your principles to various aspects of the team or organization. This will then inform what goals, objectives, activities, plans, and even timeframes, you will ultimately agree to.

Draw from your work in steps 1 and 2 to work together as a team and choose words you believe each area of your team or org must embody if you are to truly live up to your one main being principle and one main doing principle for 2019. Don’t worry about wordsmithing quite yet, just see what comes.

At The People Piece, we work with the following 5 aspects of our organization (you might choose different aspects of yours):

  • Self (me) - words and phrases like balanced, in integrity, doing what we’re best at, doing what we love, learning.

  • Partnerships (external stakeholders) - words like reciprocal, respect, mutually beneficial, integrity.

  • Systems (operations) - words and phrases like useful, lean, seamless UX.

  • Work (focus) - words and phrases like essential, aligned to goals and objectives, fun, nourishing.

  • Team (us) - words and phrases like collaborative, tapping into strengths, supportive, aligned, have each other’s backs.

STEP FOUR (15min): What are we really about this year?

Take a step back to review, synthesize and reflect. This process allows you to make any refinements, truly harvest your learning, and ensure all voices are heard. The following questions can help guide your discussion:

  • What do we truly value as individuals and as a team?

  • What feels most important to us?

  • What is possible when we adhere to our principles as individuals and a team?


Once you’ve completed your TPP, you are ready to develop goals, objectives and plans that truly embody both what you want to achieve together and how you are committed to achieving it. You might also choose to bring your TPP ideas together into a brief manifesto for the year. You can seek guidance and inspiration from your manifesto during team meetings, retros, and planning events, as well as when making important decisions.

We’d love to know how your TPP goes! Share a photo of your TPP in the LinkedIn comments section associated with this post, or comment below.