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This tool will help you design meetings, events, projects, and programs – large or. It’s one of the simplest tools you’re going to learn, but it will have enormous impact on your work. It’s called P.O.P.

P.O.P. stands for Purpose, Outcomes, and Process. It is a tool that will save you time, energy, and possibly heartache.

We’ve all been in meetings that could have gone better. Where we wondered, “What is this about?” or “What are we doing here?” or “So now what?” Or, we’ve been in meetings that didn’t seem to have a common thread and veered off topic almost immediately and never came back.

A POP is a way to quickly organize peoples’ thinking. Taking 15 minutes to write down the P.O.P. will ensure that everyone knows why they’re there, what success looks and feels like, and how they’re going to get there.

  • Purpose: Answers the question “why?”
  • Outcomes: Describes how success looks and feels.
  • Process: Determines how we are going to get there.

Here’s what you’ll need to do your own P.O.P.: A pen, paper, and 15 minutes.

  1. Start by asking yourself, “Why is this meeting, project, or email necessary?” Then, just start writing. It takes a few minutes to get the real ideas flowing, Remember, the purpose is aspirational. Think big. If you come up with just an action item, it’s not big enough. Once you come up with an aspirational purpose – something worth talking about – write it down and agree to it amongst your group, if you have one.
  2. Next, move to outcomes. Outcomes are those concrete things that demonstrate success. They can be benchmarks, deliverables, or action items. What does success look and feel like?
  3. Finally, think about the process. This is how you’re going to accomplish the outcomes and, therefore, the purpose. What do you need to do in this meeting, email, or project in order to reach the outcomes you’ve laid out?

A little note about P.O.P. Do not be tempted to start with process. It’s a natural and common mistake. Usually, we start there and hope that the unstated purpose will lead to good outcomes. If you start with purpose, envision the outcomes, and nail down a clear process (writing each step down) you’ll save time and energy.

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