The Journey — How We Got Here...

When we first started to do organizational improvement work we were very focused on systemic change. This meant taking significant new actions. Along the way we learned that subtle actions also matter. Clients have taught us that the details of “how-to” need to be better explained. Well intentioned people need to hear more than “be more inclusive.”

A customer introduced Ivy to the concept of micro-messages and microinequities in the ‘90s. Micro-messages are small, subtle communications that are transmitted by words, signals, tone, and body language. Microinequities are a pattern of negative micro-messages that accumulate to discourage and impair performance. Consulting firms often benefit from their exposure to many clients who are simultaneously seeking to solve similar problems in very different environments. Consultants have the pleasure of working in real-life lab environments. This company had demonstrated its ability to hire a diverse workforce. They sought a new approach to become even more inclusive. Microinequities was a concept that had been discussed in academic settings, but not much if at all in corporate America.

Ivy participated in the design of the microinequities curricula and was tasked to deliver a comprehensive rollout of the workshop to this organization of more than 30,000 employees across the U.S. Our interactions with these employees at all levels provided us with valuable insights into the tremendous power of subtle behaviors.

We later designed and developed new workshops for other clients based on continuing research, and to reflect their unique industries, environments and corporate cultures. With thousands of interactions and discussions around this topic, we learned that participants wanted the microinequities conversation to be a very personal one.

They wanted their peers, supervisors, even family and friends to know what ticked them off. Because they wanted people to stop triggering them! Thus we coined the phrase MicroTrigger.

During these workshops, participants listed on flipcharts the MicroTriggers that most impacted them. Team leaders, managers, everyone wanted to take the flipcharts after the class. They wanted to hang them in their workspaces to remind the team which behaviors mattered most to their colleagues. They wanted the data. Clients asked how they as individuals, and how they as a group, compared to others who had also taken our workshops. They wanted more data.

So we launched the MicroTrigger Quiz. We developed four scenarios that had frequently been described in our classes. We asked, “Does this impact you? Does it matter who sends the MicroTrigger? Whether they are your boss or your peer? Whether they are older or younger? Your own gender or opposite?” Their responses provided more insights and much more data! People took the quiz and also took the time to write in comments about their other MicroTriggers. Four scenarios were not enough to describe the behaviors that impacted people. Knowing why people were triggered was as interesting as knowing what triggered them. We continued to conduct workshops, to listen to clients, to read comments and to ask, “What’s Your MicroTrigger?” This book was born to share what we learned.

Even as we utilized the pre-publication version of the book, clients started ripping out pages. They wanted to tape their specific MicroTrigger on their cubicle wall, their office door, and even their forehead.

So each MicroTrigger page is now perforated (for easier ripping) and the book comes with a handy stand.

May you proudly display your MicroTrigger!

You’ll feel better for sharing. And even better when others who care about you demonstrate it by treating you well as defined by you.