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Storylining FAQs



What is deduction?

Deduction is the form of logical reasoning used when solving problems or crafting arguments. This logical form relies on linking a series of dependent ideas one by one to reach an inevitable conclusion.

A deductive problem solving process can have many steps that connect one by one to lead to a conclusion. A deductive storyline, by comparison, has only three steps: a statement, a comment on that statement, and an inevitable conclusion.

How do deductive storylines work?

Deductive storylines use deductive logic at the top level
A deductive argument relies upon all three top level supports being dependent upon each other and together leading you to a conclusion that cannot be disproved.

Deductive arguments begin with a statement (major premise), which is followed by a comment on the statement (minor premise), which leads to an unavoidable conclusion which we call either a recommendation or an implication.

The key is to make sure that the connections between the three elements are tightly linked. For example, the comment must comment on the statement, not on something loosely related to the statement. The implication must be the only logical conclusion if you combine the statement and the comment. If any other outcome is possible, you need to refine your logic.


Do I need to build my story from the top down?

No, you can build either top down or bottom up, as long as you tell from the top down

Stories can be created from the bottom up or from the top down. Stories are, however, told from the top down, beginning with the context, the trigger, the question and the answer before moving step by step to the details.

Very often you will begin forming a grouping storyline at the bottom by sorting ideas into groups, to help identify the themes and messages within the idea set. This process enables you to work toward identifying the overarching answer, or governing idea, at the top of the storyline.

Once this this bottom up clarification (or problem-solving) process is complete, you are ready to tell the story from the top down.

Why should deductive storylines have 3 top-level supports?

Only three ideas will provide the right combination of logical strength and clarity
Having more than three is…

  1. Logically risky. The more links you have that must be logically tight for the conclusion to be true, the more risk there is that your story will be logically flawed
  2. Hard on your audience. The more steps you take someone through, the more they have to follow and the harder it is for them to understand your ideas.
    Having less than three does not allow you to use deductive logic properly to tell your story.

A deductive storyline is based on a chain of deductive reasoning where two ideas – a statement and a comment on that statement – combine to lead you to the third, which is a conclusion. If you only had two supports, they would necessarily be a statement and a conclusion (which we call a recommendation). This leaves out the comment, or ‘however', which is a pivotal part of the deductive chain.

Why can't deductive arguments only have 2 supports or idea boxes?

Three supports are needed to form a deductive argument
A deductive argument is based on a chain of deductive reasoning in which two ideas – a statement, and a ‘however' comment which qualifies that statement – lead you to a third, which is the conclusion or implication.

If you only had two parts to the deductive chain, they would necessarily be a statement and a conclusion (or recommendation), leaving out the qualifying comment, which is a pivotal part of the deductive chain.

Why can't I layer 2 deductive storylines on top of each other?

Layering deductive storylines is both logically risky and awful for your reader

  1. It's logically risky. Given that the ideas within a deductive storyline are inextricably linked to each other, if one fails, so does the whole story. If you construct your story using layer upon layer of deductive chains, you are constructing a logically fragile structure. For example, if one idea or one link in the bottom generation is flawed, then this flaw feeds up to the highest level, and brings the whole story undone.
  2. It's awful for your reader. Drawing your audience through a stream of deductive generations one after another to get to your main point is no fun for them. It is very difficult to follow the logic and grasp the key ideas from stories constructed this way.


Is deductive used in the same way in problem solving as it is in communication?

A deductive storyline is shaped by its purpose as is deductive problem-solving.

Deductive problem solving and deductive storylines share some characteristics, but have some important differences.

A deductive problem solving process may have many, many steps that need to be worked through to help you come to your conclusion, which you then need to communicate.

A deductive story has three specific elements supporting the overall answer, or governing idea. It begins with a statement, then a comment on that statement and lastly an inevitable conclusion, which we call the implication or recommendation.

Do I need to use a deductive storyline to tell a story that emerges from a deductive problem solving process

Problem solving and storytelling need separate treatment
The logical basis for the thinking that underpins a problem solving process and a storyline structuring process may both be deductive. However, problem solving and storytelling are different activities conducted for different purposes.

When solving problems you are seeking an answer and when telling a story you are seeking engagement from an audience.

The key to choosing the storyline form is to understand what your audience needs from you while also considering what you need to provide to them. There are three ways to think about this, based upon your audience's needs:

  1. If they need to hear both why your recommendation is the right one as well as how to implement it then you will use a deductive argument structure either at the top line level of your story or perhaps one level below.
  2. If they are interested in your recommendation and a discussion about why this is so, then go with a ‘why story' as a grouping.
  3. If they only want to hear about how they should implement your recommendation, go with a ‘how story' as a grouping.


Example - Big Co Mining (prose and storyline)

While having no control over pricing, Big Mining Co wants to improve the profitability of its largest mine.

The primary opportunity for Big Mining Co is to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the mine operations.

The central question for us has been: How can Big Mining Co improve efficiency and effectiveness of its mine operations?

Opportunities exist for Big Mining Co to improve efficiency and effectiveness by adding some extra elements to the existing Tenement Management Process.

The current Tenement Management Process is robust.

  • The outsourcing process is effective
  • The Tenement Management Committee is effective
  • Proactive legal advice is accessed when needed
  • Statutory processes are followed

However, we found some minor gaps in the existing process.

  • Geologists are using inconsistent practices to record exploration activity and expenditure
  • Nobody is reconciling Geologist Activity Logs, ABC tenement XYZ codes and reported activities lodged with Renewals
  • Commercial has been slow in processing reimbursements

Therefore, we recommend that Big Mining Co brings some extra elements to the existing Tenement Management Process.

  • Develop a standard tenement exploration activity recording process
  • Modify the reimbursement process to prioritise reimbursements
  • Extend Tenement Exploration Activity Plans to include contingency activities

Click here if you would like to see this story in storyline, or diagram, form.


Example - Busy Co's Conundrum

BusyCo's IT infrastructure is struggling to keep up with its evolving business, particularly in relation to intelligent data storage solutions. BusyCo leadership does not want to store sensitive material on the cloud and would prefer other physical storage options.

(Implied question: What is the best way for BusyCo to boost its data storage capability?)

BusyCo should invest $300-$400K in Black to ensure intelligent data storage capabilities.

Statement: BusyCo currently does not have intelligent data storage capabilities. It lacks storage redundancy, replication and advanced storage features such as data de-duplication.

Comment on the statement: And the best fit solution for BusyCo to address its intelligent data storage problems is an investment with Black. Black meets all basic requirements, while Yellow meets many basic requirements but lacks industry maturity and Pink could meet the basic requirements as a retrofit to current storage, though adoption of their technology introduces significant complexity.

Implication: Therefore, we should prepare to implement a Black storage solution by allocating $300 – $400K, developing a data migration plan and identifying and managing potential risks associated with the data migration and mitigate those risks.

Click here if you would like to view this as a storyline diagram.