Pivot Triggers : Cheat Sheet for IF BS STOP Workshops

Plus updates: 3 workshops become 2, "experiments" become "probes", and the "OP" bit now gives you a plan.

It's here!

The cheat sheet ended up quite different from what I first imagined, and the Pivot Triggers method has evolved after I used it with several new teams. The rest of this post goes into the biggest changes I’ve made to the method.

You’ll find the PNG version of the cheat sheet at the end of this post and you can grab the PDF version at pivot-triggers.com.

Now let’s see what’s changed …

3 workshops become 2

In the first article on Pivot Triggers, I said we needed three 90-minute workshops to set some Triggers. This was way too long for most teams. When everyone’s already on their knees with Zoom-fatigue, the idea of another four and a half hours in online meetings is horrifying.

So I adapted and found a way to trim the whole process down to two 45-minute sessions. Much more palatable. You can probably slip these sessions into existing meetings.

Session 1 – include all the stakeholders along with your team. You’ll take the project sponsors through the experience of time-travel to failure. It’s uncomfortable but prompts an important realisation: “oh wow this actually might not work …”

Session 2 – include your whole cross-functional team. Stakeholders optional. In this session, you’ll collaboratively sketch out a plan for the next 2–6 weeks.

“Experiments” become “Probes”

Pivot Triggers are designed to help teams change the plan as they work and learn. I thought this meant it supported experimentation, and so have liberally used the term “experiment” when talking about Pivot Triggers.

But I’ve noticed there’s a problem with “experiments” : most people like the idea of them, but only if they all succeed.

As Dave Snowden put it: “the idea that failure is to be celebrated gets circulated in organisations as a way to weed out the terminally naive.”

We can talk till we’re blue in the face about celebrating failure and building a culture of experimentation. I have for years. But most of the time, when push comes to shove, success gets rewarded, not failure.

So like Dave, I’ve started using the term Probe instead.

A probe always succeeds, as long as it gets a measurement. Think of a temperature probe when roasting a joint – you put the probe in and it tells you the internal temperature of the meat. If the temperature is lower than you want, that doesn’t mean your roast has “failed” – you simply have some information that helps you decide what to do next. Leave it in the oven a bit longer. Perhaps change the temperature.

Pivot Triggers are like that temperature probe. At an agreed moment, you stop and measure something. If the signal you get back is lower than you’d like for your initiative to be juicy and delicious, you think about what you need to change.

“Open” becomes “Operations”; “Persist” becomes “Probes”

I always felt a bit funny about the last two letters of the IF BS STOP acronym. Open and Persist were kind of crowbarred on if I’m honest.

Now they've become Operations and Probes. Much better.

Now, once you’ve Sequenced your Behaviours and figured out the Signals, you sketch out some Triggers, Operations and Probes.

You’ll find you have a clear plan for the next few weeks that you can share with your stakeholders:

  • Signals: what you’re going to measure

  • Triggers: the lowest level of each signal you’ll need to see to feel it’s worth investing more in the initiative

  • Operations: who’s involved, what they’ll be working on and when

  • Probes: exactly how you’re going to poke the system to measure each signal

This turns your workshops into an actionable project plan that you can share and use.

Cheat Sheet

  • The Cheat Sheet graphic is a Mural board example. It shows what you’ll get to by the end of the workshops.

  • No, your eyes aren’t broken – the Mural board is blurred (it’s taken from a real workshop).

  • Yes, there’s more to the workshops than you can see from this Cheat Sheet, but it should be helpful enough to get you started. I’m putting together detailed instructions for a future book.

  • For now, if anything’s unclear, just hit reply and ask.