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POP Everything! Strategic Planning in 30 Seconds or Less

By July 24, 2013May 17th, 20174 Comments

Last month, we shared Rockwood trainer, Suzanne Hawkes’ post, 5 Qualities of a Great Organizational Vision. It was one of our most popular posts, so this month, we thought we’d share another of Suzanne’s pieces, POP everything! Strategic planning in 30 seconds or less.

Suzanne HawkesOne of the simplest, snappiest and most useful planning tools I know is one we teach at Rockwood Leadership Institute.  It’s a sweet little acronym called POP – standing for Purpose, Outcome and Process.

Given the state of my memory, I lunge at anything this easy to remember. And this fast. Sure, it may take a bit more than 30 seconds sometimes, but it’s still pretty snappy and massively effective. Here’s a snapshot of POP. And really, it’s so straightforward, this is all you need:

Purpose answers the question why.
Outcome speaks to what – the vision of what success will look and feel like when you “arrive.”
Process speaks to how – the specific steps involved in getting there.

Straight from the Source

The POP model was devised by brilliant leadership consultant (and fellow Rockwood trainer) Leslie Sholl Jaffe, and her partner Randall Alford.  As they describe it:

“POP is a useful tool for a multitude of the daily activities leaders find themselves faced with: meeting agendas, campaigns, difficult conversations, unplanned calls and conversations. . . . As you can gather from the list, POP is scalable.  It can be used for large, long-term projects, regular weekly staff meetings, a meeting you attend, or a call that comes in that has no agenda, coaching/mentoring sessions . . .”

Case in point: Workshop Design

Purpose Outcome ProcessLast week, I met with a small team of folks designing a workshop within a larger conference for immigrants and refugees. We started by stepping back and asking:

• What is the overall purpose of this workshop?
• Why now?
• Why here?
• How can it advance our particular focus on supporting skilled immigrants and refugees in the job market?

Then we asked:

• If this workshop is wildly successful, what would the outcome be? What does success look like, in concrete terms?

Only after we’d answered those questions did we address the process – the specific format, agenda design, room set-up, breakout size etc.

Cart before the horse . . .

All too often, action-oriented social justice and not-for-profit leaders jump straight into planning the process of calls, meetings and entire projects – without first nailing down a clear sense of purpose and outcomes. In practice, it’s vastly more effective to “go slow to go fast.”  Even doing a quick POP for simple tasks, I’ve found, can save hours of time, and help ensure that your creative energies are aligned and vastly more effective from the start.


Love Suzanne’s posts? She’ll be one of the Art of Leadership trainers, along with Helen Kim, September 15-19, 2013 at the Edith Macy Conference Center in New York. Apply today!


Rockwood Art of Leadership


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April 25 | 12 PT / 3 ET

India Harville, African American female with long black locs, seated in her manual wheelchair wearing a long sleeveless green dress. Her service dog, Nico, a blond Labrador Retriever, has his front paws on her lap. He is wearing a blue and yellow service dog vest. They are outside with greenery behind them.