Why thinking into a doc is dangerous
I was reminded this week how we must get our thinking straight in a one-pager before we prepare a document.
In using client material to prepare some exercises I had to work backwards from a document into a storyline.
It is so incredibly easy to miss the thinking errors in a document, especially in a PowerPoint deck.
I have pulled out the main problems I gleaned from this example which would have been more easily avoided if the author had prepared a one-pager first.
I have described the top-line first and followed with three prominent errors I saw throughout the deck.
Spotting the top-line problems was easy as it was neatly laid out on an executive summary page. Take a look below to see what I mean. How many problems do you see?
The confluence of factors affecting the market have created significant uncertainty
0. Spot and futures prices are high relative to historical benchmarks and have increased significantly from uneconomic lows only 18 months ago
1. The are many internal and external factors influencing current market outcomes
2. The impact for energy companies has varied and one of the key differentiators has been plant performance
Finding and fixing errors in the supporting pages was difficult as the language and links between ideas were at best muffled. Here are three traps that I drew from the top and supporting areas of this story for your inspiration.
Ban meaningless words … say what you mean! Look at how general the language is and how lacking in specifics. There are very few descriptive words and even fewer numbers.
Follow through when you set up with a frame … Point 2 above references internal and external factors influencing (how???) market outcomes (meaning???). If you are going to introduce concepts like that, use them to group the ideas below.
Avoid repeating higher level ideas within sections … I commonly see people repeat the idea above in the same or similar words. Most often this will be the last point in a list. Be careful to avoid that sort of repetition within your storyline. These sorts of ‘tell them what you told them' tactics can be useful in a document, but muddy the thinking within the storyline itself.
I hope that helps and look forward to bringing more to you next week.
PS – A warm welcome to our new members.
I have opened the doors to Early Birds and at the time of writing we have half a dozen who have joined today alone. We look forward to working with you!
If you are enjoying the program, please do tell your friends and colleagues about it so they can join. Download the brochure here to share with them.