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The Pyramid Principle

Training module
Dit document is onderdeel van een set ondersteunend materiaal dat ter
download wordt aangeboden aan kopers van Strategiehelden door Jeroen
De Flander (ISBN Belgi 978 90 4860 959 8 - ISBN Nederland 978 90 4700
410 3).

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling process for
producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
Header > Subheader
2

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

A pyramid structure establishes a question-answer dialogue and is easier to


comprehend

Pigs should be Rules


kept as pets
Why? Ideas at any level
They could be bred should be
They are beautiful to fascinating
variations summaries of the
How?
In what ideas below
way?
They are They are In perso- Ideas in each
In types In size
nality
marvelously fat typically English grouping should
How is fat be of the same
beautiful?
kind
Ideas in each
Symbolizes that
Present lovely
Create Are linked to the power is not
So English they grouping should
modesty in deserve to be the
land inconsistent with
curves to the
onlooker
the kindness
national symbol be logically
possessor
ordered
www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
Header > Subheader
3

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

At any level in the pyramid, there is a choice between deductive versus


inductive reasoning

Deductive Inductive
Poland is about to be
Because I am a invaded by tanks
bird, I fly

French tanks are at German tanks are at Russian tanks are at


Birds fly I am a bird Therefore I fly
the Polish border the Polish border the Polish border

Main disadvantage is that the conclusion is Is very easy to follow as a reader since the
not clear from the beginning conclusion is clear from the beginning
Is bullet proof once the subelements are Is less strong as deductive reasoning but
generally accepted also more difficult to challenge
More difficult to follow as a reader, Recommended to be used in the top line(s)
therefore not in the top line(s) but more
below in the pyramid as things are getting
more and more focussed
www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
4

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

An introduction serves as a means to establish the relevance of the


question/answer put forward

The pyramid permits to carry on a question-answer dialogue with your reader


but the starting statement needs to be relevant
Therefore make sure your document is of interest by directing it towards a
questions that exists in the readers mind and that is relevant
The classic pattern of story telling (situation, complication, question, answer)
permits you to make sure you and the reader are standing in the same place
before you lead him through your thinking
In summary, the introduction tells the reader, in story form, what he already
knows about the subject youre discussing, and thus reminds him of the
question he has
Once the introduction is clear, youre free to concentrate on the ideas at lower
levels of the pyramid

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
5

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Problem solving is a fundamental skill use the issue analysis approach to


solve problems that do not lend themselves to ready-made solutions

The question >> Issue

Sub-Issue Sub-Issue Sub-Issue

Sub-Issue Sub-Issue
Hypothesis Hypothesis

Hypothesis Hypothesis
Evidence Evidence Evidence Evidence Evidence

Evidence Evidence
Task Task Task

Task Task Task

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden Work Plan for Problem Solving


6

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

This course covers how to use issue analysis to solve problems that do not
lend themselves to ready-made solutions

Identify the key question to determine which approach to use

If issue analysis is the right approach, build it in six steps

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
7

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Identify the key question to determine which approach to use

Use the Situation-Complication-Question (SCQ) framework

Fill it in with information available

Always get agreement on the key question, since your analysis could raise a
different question

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
8

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Use the Situation-Complication-Question (SCQ) framework to identify the


key question

Situation where we are now, and


where we want to go
whats the background everybody agrees ons

Complication whats stopping us from getting there


whats unsatisfactory in this situation, what
would be satisfactory instead
which triggers
...

Question ... the key question on our mind

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
9

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Example SCQ

Situation We are active in several European markets, and


want to expand further.
We are contemplating acquiring XYZ, a local
manufacturer in a new market.

Complication We are uncertain about the risks involved,


given the volatility of the market, and arent
sure about the fit with XYZ.

Question Should we acquire XYZ?

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
10

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Fill in the SCQ with information derived from research, team discussion,
and meeting(s) with stakeholders

Prepare for meeting


Read available documents
Share insights among team members

Set up a meeting with the stakeholders


Ask a balance of closed and open-ended questions
Remain alert to hidden agendas
Summarize comments to ensure youve understood correctly

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
11

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Always agree on the key question, since your analysis could raise a different
question

Situation Complication Question Question


raised by analysis

We want to enter Uncertain whether How should we What should be our


phosphates-free to do it alone or acquire a company entry strategy?
cleaners market by acquisition in this market?

We want to enter Concerned about What should be Should we enter the


phosphates-free the risks our entry strategy? market?
cleaners market

We want to launch Lead time is long Should we launch How can we shorten
new product and increasing this product? time to market?

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
12

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

This course covers how to use issue analysis to solve problems that do not
lend themselves to ready-made solutions

Identify the key question to determine which approach to use

If issue analysis is the right approach, build it in six steps

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
13

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

If issue analysis is the right approach, build it in six steps

1. Identify the key question

2. Turn the agreed key question into an issue that captures the concerns

3. Break down the issue into sub-issues

4. Generate hypotheses and identify the evidence to ask for

5. Develop the work plan

6. Test and revise the work plan when necessary

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
14

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Turn the agreed key question into an issue that captures the concerns

Agreed key Issue


Situation Complication Question
question

We want Concerned What Should we Will investing $XX million


to enter about the risks should be enter the in production,
phosphates our entry market? distribution, marketing of
Uncertain
-free strategy? phosphates-free cleaners
whether entry
cleaners help achieve strategic
will help meet
market growth targets for 2015?
strategic growth
targets for 2015

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
15

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

By reformulating the question as an issue, the analysis will be more


efficient

Focuses attention on what stops us to get where we want to go


Is aimed at the feasibility and measurability of the solutions
Avoids repetition when we formulate hypotheses and gather evidence

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
16

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Phrasing the question as an issue helps us focus on what is preventing


us from getting where we want to be

Key Question Issue Statement

What level of inventory do we Should we decrease our


need? inventory level?

What should we do about that Should we replace that plant?


plant?

Should we transfer our Will transferring our technology


technology to our new joint to our new joint venture increase
venture? our earnings?

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
17

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Break down the issue into sub-issues

Should we
replace that plant to regain
traditional 30% market share?

Does it give a
Does it give a
Do we have the sustainable
sustainable cost
money? product
advantage?
advantage?

Lower Lower
Better More Faster Higher plant
purchase distribution
quality? uniformity? delivery? productivity?
costs? costs?

Tip: limit the number of sub-issues at any level to seven or fewer


www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
18

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Test the sub- issues to see whether they are MECE (mutually exclusive and
collectively exhaustive)
Should we
replace that plant to regain
traditional 30% market share?

Vertically
exhaustive: Mutually
Does it give a
Does it give a exclusive
capture all Do we have the sustainable
sustainable cost
money? product
significant advantage?
advantage?
sub-issues

Lower Lower
Better More Faster Higher plant
purchase distribution
quality? uniformity? delivery? productivity?
costs? costs?

Horizontally exhaustive: include all sub-issues needed to provide answer to overall issue
www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
19

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Ensure all sub-issues are relevant

Should we
replace that plant to regain
traditional 30% market
share?

Does it give a
Do we Does it give a
sustainable
have the sustainable cost
product
money? advantage?
advantage?

Will the unions


accept the
change?

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
20

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Generate hypotheses and identify the evidence to ask for

Sub-issues Hypotheses Evidence

What would
What would
What are the be realistic
prove or disprove
most important answers to
these
questions? the
hypotheses?
questions?

Productivity
Will the new plant of old plant
achieve higher Yes
productivity? Productivity
of new plant

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
21

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

When you know what evidence you need, you can develop the work plan

Assign tasks to gather the evidence

Estimate the time required for team members to perform their tasks

Draft the work plan

Test it to ensure it is efficient and understandable

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden
22

The Pyramid Principle is Barbara Mintos powerful and compelling


process for producing everyday business documents.
All rights are reserved to Minto Books International, Inc.
Download # 05: The Pyramid Principle For more information see http://www.barbaraminto.com.

Test the work plan

Test for efficiency


Avoids overlapping tasks
Exploits synergies resulting from clustered tasks
Schedules interdependent tasks in the proper sequence

Test the work plan to ensure that all team members understand clearly
The overall objective of the work
What evidence they are expected to collect and where to look for it
How their tasks relate to the overall objective
When they are expected to provide their results
How much time and effort they can expend

www.the-performance-factory.com/nl/strategiehelden