I like action. But in the non profit world, there’s a lot of talk.

Turning that talk and theory into actionable outcomes is a challenge. But there’s a simple tool we can use to meet that challenge.

I learned what leadership guru Robert Gass calls “The Fantastic POP” during Art of Leadership several years ago. It’s been helpful to me and I believe more people and teams should use this simple tool to get results.

Here’s an overview, which can both introduce the model and provide a refresher for those who have already learned it.

If you want to dig into deeper, Gass has a full resource available here.

1. What is “the fantastic POP?”

It is a simple, yet powerful tool for focusing activities on creating results.

2. How can it help you turn ideas into actions that get results?

This tool can:

  • Help you – and your colleagues– get clear on the purpose and outcomes of any intended activity.
  • Help instill in individuals, teams and organizations an ongoing discipline of focusing on results rather than activity.

3. When to use it?

  • When initiating any purposeful activity – small or large: a telephone call, an entire meeting or a single agenda item, a campaign tactic or the whole campaign, a training or a training module, a program or organizational initiative, etc.

4. How does it work?

Before initiating an activity, address three questions:

  • Purpose: Why? Why are we undertaking this? What is the purpose?
  • Outcomes: What are the specific outcomes we want to accomplish as a result of this activity?
  • Process: What steps will we take to achieve these outcomes and fulfill the purpose?

Our work should always begin with purpose. Purpose answers the question: “Why?”

The failure to invest the time up-front to focus our energy is one of the greatest sources of wasted time. Purpose – the first step in the POP model – helps ensure that our energy is spent on things that matter.

Exercise: What is the purpose of your meeting, one-on-one conversation or campaign? Why should you prioritize it over other activities?


This is where non profits usually trip up. Before outlining the “how” we must outline the “what.” What are the specific outcomes we seek to accomplish? The more clearly we can define our desired outcomes, the more clearly we can design the most effective process to achieve them.

What are the specific results we want to achieve that will help us fulfill the Purpose? What will be different in the world? What would make it worth the expenditure of energy? Try to make these outcomes visible, concrete and easy to measure.

Do not proceed to planning until you are clear on exactly the outcomes you want to create.

Exercise: What outcomes do you want to create from your meeting, one-on-one conversation or campaign?


Only now, after being clear on our purpose (why?) and the specific outcomes we wish to accomplish (what?) are we ready to begin planning the process to use – how.

You all know how to plan. But the simple point of the POP model is to ensure that our plans – the processes we create – are actually designed to serve the purpose and accomplish the outcomes we intend.

Exercise: As you think about planning your activity ask yourself detailed process questions as they relate to your purpose and your outcomes. For a meeting this could look like this. How do I:

  • physically set up the space?
  • handle introductions?
  • set ground rules?
  • tee up the purpose and the outcomes?
  • ensure that everyone participates? Do I want an open discussion or structured process?
  • capture the feedback happening?
  • plan for any potential breakdowns/disagreements among the group?
  • keep track of time?
  • close the discussion?
  • follow up with participants after the discussion closes?

Bonus Advice from Robert Gass
Each layer of the POP model is subordinate to the one above it. If at any point there is confusion or uncertainty, work your way back up the model and re-check for clarity and the linkages and alignment involved.