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Transcript – 2021 0718 – Develop – Groupings


Today we're going to talk about one of the elements that sits within the develop your storyline part of our framework. Today we're going to talk about grouping structures. Now groupings are one of the two structures that we work with in storyline. We talk about groupings. And we talk about deductive structures. Both of those are really powerful structures. And they used in slightly different ways. Now strong grouping storylines look deceptively simple. But there are three things that I want to talk to you about in relation to them. Firstly, they communicate robust points of view, backed by evidence. And I'm going to give you an example to talk that through. Secondly, they pass five key structural tests, if they go to do more than just be a format, but actually act as a scaffold for our thinking, which is what our approach will do. And then finally, we go to cut, they come in three key patterns that I'm going to introduce those to you as well. So let's get into this first part, where I give you an example, to demonstrate how they communicate robust points of view, backed by evidence. So let me ask you a question. If you look at the storyline on the screen there, does that provide a robust point of view backed by relevant evidence? Hope you think not, these three points that sit underneath here don't really belong together.

The first one, it's a great cause for Who Says who? Secondly, costs, that's a topic, not a message. And then finally, they need our support to grow. Well, frankly, that's not our problem. So these three points are not at all relevant. They're not substantial. And they're not consistent with each other either. So we can do a lot better than that. Let's have a look at what I mean. Tell me is this example better? We've got four supporting points, they're not three. That's okay. I'll explain the rules to you shortly. The first point says, supporting the DC alliance with our philanthropy strategy.

The second one supporting the DC makes excellent commercial sense. Thirdly, the DC is the top performing disability advocate in the country. And forcefully Lastly, the risks of being associated publicly with the DC are minimal. So what we have there are four points, which support that main idea that we should support the disability crew. But I'm going to suggest to you that two of them are we, those two in the middle could be quite a bit stronger. So that second point they're offering the DC 100,000 per year makes commercial and reputational sense, is so much more powerful than what was there before much more relevant to the audience. And more substantive, it's much more specific. Now, there's number three here is also interesting, but weak, the fact that it's the top performing disability advocate in the country, that's nice. But why does that really matter to us? Instead, if we said something like the DC is highly effective at helping us hire and manage people with disabilities, we would have a much stronger, more robust point. So if we take it a step further, and look at what we've got in the so what, because we have four now fairly robust points sitting underneath, it's easier to refine the so what and you'll find yourself iterating like this when you're building a storyline, that so what is much more powerful, think it's pretty good, but we can do better. Look how much more specific This is, while still being less than 25 words, we should invest 100,000 in supporting the DC to set up five year mutually supportive relationship much more powerful, much more robust. So if we take all of those changes that I've made, I think you would agree that the ideas focus on the audience far better with a real what's in it for me, the messaging is much more substantive, and the supporting ideas that consistent inform. And that's one of our structural tests that we want to make sure we absolutely focus on to make sure that the structure we're using here isn't just an elegant way to present ideas, but the rules that underpin it actually push us to shape our thinking. So let's have a look at that now. And look at how a really strong and robust grouping structure will pass five key structural tests. By now you'll be familiar with the 10 point test. You will have seen that in previous videos in the work that we've been doing together. So we've got a series of 10 questions here. Now today, we're going to be focusing on questions six, seven, and eight. Is the supporting storyline robust? Now there are three questions the number six focuses at the top line sitting straight under the so what number seven looks at the supporting levels beneath that. And number eight talks about messy which I'm going to talk about in some depth as well. So let's take a look at these key tests that we use to make sure we answer those Three questions with a yes for each

one. So there are five things that we need to look at here. Firstly, together, the ideas in the whole storyline must pass that VC test and I promise I will explain that in just a moment. Secondly, individually, each idea must provoke or respond to just one question in the audience's mind, synthesize or summarize the ideas below parent two to five mini ideas or children ideas, and add genuine value to the story. Now I'm going to work through each one of these to explain in a bit more depth what I mean, now may see if you've ever worked with consultants, you will have heard this term for sure. maseeh. mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive, or some people say mutually exclusive covers everything. So let's have a look at what it actually means. Those two ideas, they're at the top the lift, under the words mutually exclusive overlap. So you can see that they're not completely separate. If ideas are not separate, they overlap. They're not mutually exclusive. So we want them to be quite separate. So this idea on the right now about being collectively exhaustive is actually much harder to get right. It's easier to see if ideas overlap within a set. But it's harder to know whether you've covered the complete set, is this the right set? Is it complete. So mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive. So let's have a look here, coming back to that example that I looked at before. These ideas are mutually exclusive, but not collectively exhaustive. That idea that it's a great cause.

We should talk about costs, and they need our support to grow. They're quite separate and distinct points, but they're not covering everything that we need to know. So in this example, this storyline passes the Macy test. Why? Because those four ideas provide us with sufficient information to believe that we should invest $100,000 in supporting the DC to set up a five year mutually supportive relationship. Now in this example, I've ordered this set of ideas by degree of importance, and ordering the ideas in itself is a terrific strategy for working out whether the ideas pass the Macey test or not. If we put things in order, it's much easier to see Firstly, whether there's any gaps. And secondly, what they're actually telling us and whether we think that we've got a complete set or not. So what I'd encourage you to do is use a structure to help identify ideas that you want to discuss, like Porter's five forces or some other example that you might be familiar with.

And secondly, order the ideas within the structure by one of two ways, time, which could be steps, it could be a process, do this first, do that next, and so on, or degree, like the example I gave you before, which might be largest to smallest, most impact, to least impact, hardest to achieve, to easiest to achieve. Or perhaps in a reverse, you might want the quick wins first, and then move on to the more difficult things, you'll make a strategic choice about how you ordered those points. And that's all part of the thinking process that helps us make sure our messages are really clear, really compelling, and, frankly, robust. So the next point I want to talk about here is how individually each idea provokes or responds to just one question in the audience's mind. This is a very useful technique for organizing the ideas and checking whether they belong and checking whether you've drawn out the right message from each point. So if I look at a grouping structure, here's what I notice. The so what ties the whole story together while flowing naturally from the introduction. And then those supporting points are independent of each other. But answer a sub question that flows from the so what I call that the power of one, we've got one idea that provokes one question in the audience's mind.

It's invisible in the writing, but it's there. And then it leads to one type of response. So 1111 idea, one question, one type of response. Now an example will help that bring come to life for you. Let's have a look at the top point here. I deserve a pay rise that ties together the whole story. And then you say, Well, why is that true? Why do you deserve a pay rise? Well, here we have three reasons why I've exceeded all my targets, the business is hugely profitable, and you've promised me a pay rise. So there's three independent points that answered that sub question of why perhaps a slightly different take on this might lead to a how questions sitting between are so what and the points below so I'm imagining here a conversation that Mary might be having with the HR team, or perhaps with their superior to say that

well, we really need to pay Mary more. So if the main messages when need to decide the best way to deliver myria pay rise? You might say, Okay, well, how are we going to do that, and look what sits underneath here. These are steps ordered by time. Firstly agree that Mary is deserving a pay rise. Secondly, decide whether to promote her or extend her upper limit of her current level. And thirdly, notify everyone about next steps. So three actions that need to be taken, and the audit by time, we wouldn't notify everyone until we've done the other two things, for example. So the next thing to think about is whether the ideas synthesize or summarize the ideas below. So let's have a look again, at an example. Now, categories, we've been talking about categories and topics already, I just wanted to reinforce that here we have a category, you might call it a topic, which says partnership proposal, and then goes into the supporting points underneath without that single, so what message, we don't want to do that the categories useful, but in conjunction with a message.

The next one here is a summary. Okay, that describes what the information says in general terms. So it might be that a summary of those points could be the disability crew is a potential partner. Okay, so that's useful. It's interesting. But it's an observation, it doesn't provide us with real insight as to what we ought to do with that information. Now, sometimes a summary is enough. But mostly, I think you'll get more value. If you go that extra step, and describe why your ideas have meaning to your audience, go to that extra level. So here, we should invest 100,000, in supporting the DC to set up a five year mutually supportive relationship that is much more substantial, gives much more meaning to your audience. And frankly, if that's all they hear, they get the general idea. So synthesis is a very powerful tool in helping you distill the meaning out of your communication and make it relevant for your audience. You will have seen in the examples that I had here, that we've had a small number of supporting points each time and we think that's really important, we think you should have between two and five mini ideas. So let me talk that through again, by way of an example.

Now, the one I've been working with has had four points, which is a fine number. This example has too many points, let's have a look at what's going on. Now I've got here, the first four points that match with the example we've been working with. And then I've got three extra ones at the end. So the fifth one says the desease finances are in good shape with costs under control. The sixth one, the DC has excellent systems that ensure their match the right candidate with the right roles. And finally, point three, their philanthropy strategy points to the importance of supporting local organizations. Now, my hope is that as I read those out, alarm bells were going off in your mind thinking, actually, some of those belong is sub points under some of those other areas, which is classically what happens when we go beyond five points. So if we look at the first one here that I've moved, pop it under the first point they appoint through their philanthropy strategy, well, it tells you it belongs in that section there.

It is not the only point that belongs in that section, but it belongs in there, it doesn't belong at that higher level. Now, if I look at this next one, we're talking about systems that ensure they match the right candidates. Well, that's actually fits very neatly underneath the third point there. And this last one, the risks, well, that's about finances, making sure they don't go belly up, for example, they've got their costs under control, that's an evidence point to support that idea there. Now, there are other evidence points that need to come to support those. But I think you'll find when you've got more than five points underneath, so what you can do the same sort of thing, you can move some ideas further down into the hierarchy, possibly all of them and come up a level and tie them together with an idea that glues them together and describes what they mean. Now, lastly, I hope this goes without saying but I'm very mindful that I see lots of communication with stories with with information in it, that isn't core to the message that's being delivered. So let's have a look at what I mean there. So I'm coming back to the pay rise example. We have a look here, I've added some extra points in the end, which I'm highlighting in red. Those two things may well be true. But I'm going to suggest to you that they don't add genuine value to the story, because they're relevant to you as to why you want a pay rise,

but they're not relevant as to why you deserve a pay rise. So if that's your situation, leave them off and make sure you extend The strength of those other points so that you actually get the outcome you're looking for. So, each idea needs to add genuine value to the story. And I'm going to suggest to you that the story is much more powerful as a whole. If you don't add those x extra things in, that don't add real value, talked about how grouping storylines look deceptively simple when they're really strong, how they communicate robust points of view, backed by evidence, how they pass five key structural tests. And finally, I'd like to show you how they come into three key patterns. So we've got three patterns that we talk about here when we're using gripping structures. Firstly, action Jackson for action plans. Secondly, the pitch for proposals and recommendations. And finally, traffic light for updates and compliance stories. Now these are mapped out in the handout, which you can download download below this module.

And I think as you start to play with them, you'll find them really helpful scaffolds for building grouping storylines. So there we have it. As I said, strong grouping storylines do look deceptively simple, but there's quite a bit that goes underneath to get them to be in that place. So having worked through this module, I'd encourage you to take the challenge below. Play around with some emails, perhaps to focus on thinking and structure and then discuss your structures with a colleague. It really helps to embed your learning. Thanks so much. I look forward to seeing you in another module soon. Bye for now.