The TOTE model for strategies was first developed and published in 1960 by George Miller, Eugene Galanter and Karl H. Pribram.  TOTE stands for Trigger (or Test), Operate, Test, Exit.

Trigger: this is the cue that starts the strategy or the rest of the TOTE pattern.  For example, for some people, they know that it is time to eat when a loved one calls them into the kitchen and asks them to stop watching television.

Operate: this is the sequence of internal and external information that someone gathers before coming to the “Test” phase of their strategy.

Test: The Test is a comparison or analysis of the data gathered in the operation phase of the TOTE.

Exit: The Exit is the decision point in the TOTE.  If the Test phase produces a “Match,” then a decision is made.  If no match is made, then the strategy repeats in the following ways:

  1. Changing the outcome
  2. Redirecting the strategy
  3. Adjusting the criteria
  4. Reorienting
  5. Refining or further specifying the outcome
  6. Accessing more data

For more information on TOTE strategies and how we do what we do, contact William Wood CHt at 801-203-3405 or . Visit me at

I wrote this article as part of a continuing education course at

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