Transcript – A2 – [CF] 2021 0702 – Intro v2


Communicating complex ideas has never been easy. Today, I want to give you some ideas to help you think differently about the way you prepare and also deliver your communication at work.

My name is Davina Stanley. I've been helping experts communicate complex ideas for a couple of decades now. And I'm really looking forward to bringing this so what strategy series to you? The So What strategy drives breakthrough thinking and communication. And there are three things I want to tell you about it today.

Firstly, it cuts through complexity to deliver clarity and insight.

It's powered by structured logical thinking.

And it's driven by a three step approach.

So what happens when the boss wants an update? You get a text, she's about to go into an executive meeting and will be asked about the project you're leading. She says she'll call you in a few minutes for a 30 second verbal update. What does she want?

Not this: ‘Well, we looked into the finance question some more. And Michelle has been looking at the schedule. And do you have some time, by the way, next week, on Thursday for a meeting? And there's also that risk analysis? We've been working on that'.

That is absolutely not what she wants.

But while you are delivering that there's an awful lot of complexity going on in your mind, as you're scrambling to think about what are the things that matter to her? what's going on in the project? What does the audience need to know? So what we need to do is cut through that complexity. And to do that, we need to tightly frame our question. And doing that takes away a whole lot of the clutter, and helps us focus our thinking very carefully so that then we can answer that question using a clear and structured storyline.

And that storyline needs a So What.

And it needs to be supported by a tightly structured story.

So that story is going to have an introduction with enough context. But without any backup that's needed. So just something really short, it's going to have an overall idea that we call this so what that will help you be clear about the message you want your audience to take away. And then you'll have a logical hierarchy and sequence of ideas sitting underneath that. And taken all together, that's going to provide a really compelling story that helps your audience understand exactly, so what that message is that you're telling them. And so this is what it might look like. Now we've drawn it up visually here, we do that quite a lot. But let's work through it step by step. Now, if it's on your notepad, obviously, it's going to be rough. But here we've got it drawn as a picture. So it's just easy to follow.

So you might begin with a short introduction that says something like this. As you know, we're working on implementing system x, we've nearly finished phase one and want to update you on our progress. Okay, you can imagine your audience then saying, Okay, well, how are you tracking? How are you progressing? Then your answer would be, overall, we're on track. He's three reasons why, let me give you those quickly. And then I'll dive into the detail. Firstly, we've completed phase one tasks on time. Secondly, we're on track with budget. And thirdly, we have a clear pathway for the next phase. So let me tell you a bit more about phase one and what we've done there. You talk about the development and the first round testing perhaps. And then in the second point, where as I said, we're on track with budget. And there are two things here, I've got to support and you'd run through those. And then finally, I mentioned that we've got a clear pathway for the next phase, there are three things to know these stakeholders are engaged keystep gateway steps have been completed, and the key risks are under control.

So what we have there is a really tight and complete and clear story that's got a very specific hierarchy of ideas, it's really easy to follow, and, frankly, easy to deliver as well. So the So What Strategy, we think matters everywhere. It doesn't matter where you are, in the 28 hours or so of week that McKinsey would suggest you spend writing emails searching for information and attempting to collaborate around communication. It doesn't matter where you are in that workload, if you think about it, well, if we go to the example on the top right there, and this is a slightly extreme one, but it is absolutely real. We worked with a risk team that developed 90 plus drafts of a 15 page pros risk paper before they got their recommendation approved, that you can imagine the frustration that was there in that team now, 90 drafts is extraordinary, I think. But certainly being in the double digits with 10 or 20 is is not at all uncommon with the clients that we see.

So there's an awful lot of waste there. So cutting back on that 28 hours or perhaps just delivering more value within them, I think is really key. Now I've got a couple of other examples there on the bottom left, once again, was a real example of ours, where we worked with a project manager in a large telecommunications company, who was spending 12 to 15 hours preparing for governance meetings, that would typically go for two to three hours and achieve nothing. And we turned that around and effect got them to a place where they could present their, prepare their communication in about two hours, and then have a 15 minute meeting that got a decision, which is what they were looking for. So very big shift. And lastly, on the right there, we've got another example where if you can imagine, you know, the 45 minute classic briefing for the CEO on a major business risk. And at the end of that meeting, the CEO has to ask, so is this under control? Now, I don't know about you. But that's not the question, I want to be asked if that's me, having presented to the CEO for 45 minutes. So if you think about that reality for so many of us, you know, it would be really great to find some things we can do to change the dynamic so that we spend that 28 hours, adding significantly more value, or shrink the amount of time we spend preparing our communication, so we can get faster results, and then get on with the business of business.

As I mentioned, at the beginning, there were three things I wanted to tell you about the So What Strategy. And we're up to the second one now. So it's powered by structured logical thinking. let me dive into that, and tell you what I mean. So we think about our ideas being organized into a tight and structured logical hierarchy. We talk about tight bottom up synthesis. We talk about logic, we talk about groupings, and hierarchy, and sequence. And we also talk about top down communication. So there are some things to cover here. Let me dive into them in a bit more detail so that you can see how we deliver communication that really stacks up that's well synthesized, and has watertight logic. So the first thing I want to talk about here is how clarity stems from bottom up synthesis. We take an idea at the very bottom, we take a couple of them. And we look at them. And we say, Well, what are they telling us and we come up a level. And then we look at the next couple of ideas, we say, Well, what are they telling us and come up a level. And we do the same thing again and again until we get to the very top of our hierarchy. And that's the thinking process, we encourage you to take into focus on to clarify your messaging. So you've got that single message at the top, and just a small number of supporting ideas sitting underneath. Now, when we thinking about, okay, we've got our hierarchy together, we've synthesized our ideas. What do we do next? Well, we communicate it and we communicate it in the opposite direction, we communicate it top down. So we have a really short introduction, as I mentioned before, and then we go into our main point. And we break it up into a small number of ideas, and then unpack it section by section just like I did with that example for the the boss the quick update. So although we come to our realization of what our ideas are very often thinking bottom up, not always, but very often, we're definitely going to communicate it top down. So when we deliver that communication, we're very mindful of the top down hierarchy that I talked about just then. But we're also very mindful of the left to right relationships in our ideas here, we want to make sure that we're moving from in terms of the supporting ideas there, from perhaps the most important to the least important, or have a really clear order in which we present the ideas.

Now, in this example, with this diagram, we're using what we call a grouping structure. Now, there's one other way of doing that. And it's using what we call a deductive structure. And you can see there that that picture I've given you is slightly different. So we have two different ways of organizing our ideas in that horizontal part of our story. So having given you there some ideas about how we think the So What Strategy helps you cut through complexity to deliver clarity in insight, and how it's powered by structured logical thinking. I want to show you the approach we use to get to a place where ideas are really clear. And we don't get asked that. So what question at the end of our presentation. So we have three steps for communicating our ideas. We talked about firstly designing our strategy. Secondly, developing our storyline, and finally delivering our communication. And when Taken together, these three steps proved to be very powerful in making sure we communicate the right messages to the right people in the right way. So let me talk a little bit more about what's involved in each one of these steps.

So the first one is to design our communication strategy. Now that's got three parts to it. clarify your purpose, understand your audience, and plan your process. Now. Those three things on the surface sounds A simple, what we have is some very specific questions that we get you to ask to help you really unpack those points and go beyond what might seem superficial in general, to be very precise. And then once we clear about our strategy, we got to think about how do we develop a storyline, we got to encourage you to map it on a single page, we're going to have a single introduction, which is really short. And it's got three specific elements to it, which we'll talk more about in the coming videos. So when we're developing our storyline, we want to make sure we can help you avoid going from first principles.

So we've developed three patterns here for grouping structures, which we think are the most commonly used structures that we seen when we've worked with clients across any spectrum of consulting, government or business. And then we have another four patents to help as well. So deductive storylines, some of our clients find a little more complex. And we think they're really powerful. So we wanted to give you some patents for those ones as well. So these are four very powerful patterns. And you can see from the diagrams, and if you pause the video to have a look at how they work. You can see the relationships between the ideas there are quite different than in a grouping structures. So once you've got your storyline clear whether you've worked from first principles, or used one of our patterns, it's time to deliver your storyline. Delivering becomes very easy once that storyline is clear.

So just to give you an idea of what that storyline might look like, if we send it as an email, here it is on a page, the words are the same, the structure is the same, but obviously it's fit for purpose, it's fit for an email setting, she can see exactly what you're on about very, very quickly and respond quickly to because the ideas are going to pop from the page. So now I've shown you what that looks like inside an email. I've given you the overview of what we're trying to achieve here. You can see how the So What strategy can help drive breakthroughs in your thinking and also in your communication. Thanks for taking time to listen to me and I look forward to seeing you again in some of the forthcoming videos. Bye for now.