Transcript – A3 – Thinking Skills


Welcome back. Today I want to offer you some thinking skills to help you distill greater insights when you're preparing your communication. Now, there are three types of thinking skills I want to introduce today. And I'm going to begin with top down and bottom up thinking strategies. And these two strategies come together very powerfully, to help us build our communication. So we can tie the ideas together working from the bottom up, or we can start with a higher order idea and work down into the detail. We need to be able to do both of those things to prepare really clear and compelling communication, that then once it's clear, and compelling, we will work from the top of the story downwards to communicate. So I'm going to begin with bottom up thinking. And then once we through that, I'll introduce the top down thinking strategies.

So when we're looking at bottom up, we're thinking about boosting our accuracy, about tying the ideas together from the really lower level detail, and grouping and sorting until we get to one single, overarching thought, the way we do that is look at a set of ideas and say, Well, what does that mean? And then we've got them into groups, we'll we'll have categorize them into groups. And then we look at the groups and we say, Well, what do they mean? And we come up a level and we keep coming up. Until we get to that single idea sitting at the top of our communication. Let me go through two examples to illustrate how this works. So I've got four ideas there on the screen, and I'd ask you to take a moment and think about which one of those is actually the higher order idea. Now, I think that transaction does not comply sits over and above the other three, it's a more general statement. And it provokes a question in the audience's mind, which might be why why is that true? And then we've got three reasons below, which describe why that's true. And they're components of that overall compliance. Three ways, if you like, in which we don't comply.

We don't comply with strategy, policy or regulations. Now I've got another example here. Again, for ideas. Take a moment, pause the video, if you like. And think about which one of those is the overarching idea which one ties them all together? Now? I think it is, we've completed the work. Now let me explain why. In coming to that answer. I've looked at those three other examples and seeing what's common about them. How can I categorize or theme them, and I can see that they're all about work. They're about tasks that have been completed. So firstly, I found the category work. And then I've looked at them all. And I've said, Well, what are they saying about the work, and they've said that we've completed it. So the messages, we've completed the work. And then underneath we again, we have components, three types of work that we have completed, we've collected the data, we've performed the analysis, and we've reported our findings. So that higher level idea there's summarizes and ties together all of the lower level points, it leads our audience to ask for why. And then it provides the detail working from the top down, but arrived at from the bottom up.

So if we look at the things that are holding those two examples together, firstly, taken together, the low ideas group up to the higher level idea. So the lower level ideas are all the same kind of thing. In this case, they're all reasons, because that question sitting below between the layers was why that's one of the primary tests we're going to be using to see whether our ideas do belong together or not. So now let's have a look at top down thinking. Now, top down thinking is very powerful, because it saves time and reduces gaps. And it's really powerful to use when we know a bit about the area already. If we don't know much at all, we're going to need to begin bottom up most likely. But if we do know something, or we do have a hunch as to what our story should say, it's a great strategy to map it out from the top down.

So when we doing that, what we're doing is saying okay, here's my main thought, My So what? And then we'll How can I back that up, and I've got a series of ideas that would sit underneath. And I keep rolling that process down until I get to the lower level detail. And I can be very confident then that I've covered everything that I need to cover. So if I'm to come back to those examples that I use before, when we were looking at the bottom up strategy for arriving at our messaging, we can see them in the same way. If we're thinking about it from a top down perspective, what we'd be doing here is saying, Okay, well, I know we've completed the work. Well, how do I back that up? What evidence can I provide? Well, we've cleansed the data, we've performed the analysis, we've reported our findings, the other three parts of the work that we've completed, so you're just arriving at the same messaging in a A different way.

Now the next strategy I'd like to introduce is the way to use the so what question to help draw out greater meaning. Now, if we have a look at this story on the screen here, again, a really short example, high level example, we've got the high level message, which is released Donner to help us deliver. We've got three ideas sitting underneath that. Donna has critical expertise, the project is difficult and delivery is a regulatory requirement. But I've got some problems with a number of those example points. Firstly, I look at that first example. Donna has critical expertise, also. So what if she does that doesn't mean I'm going to allow her to work on your project. I wonder for mine. I know she's got critical expertise.

Secondly, the project's difficult will tell me something I don't know what project isn't. That's not interesting. That's not useful. Finally delivered. Finally, delivery is a regulatory requirement. Now, in many environments, that means that's code for saying we have to do it, we don't have a choice. So that one is okay. The other two though, I look at each one of those. And I say So what? So what? Now, if I look at a better way of describing each of these sub points, look what happens. Look at the one on the left there, Donna has critical expertise. The alternative to that is only Donna has the critical expertise, suddenly that becomes meaningful. The second point, why are we saying the project's difficult, but we can't deliver without that expertise. Without Donna's expertise, suddenly, we've got a much more compelling story. And the difference is that we're not just providing observations in that example, on the left, we're providing those first two points as observations, they're descriptions of the information, what they're not doing is going far enough. The two examples on the right, are reasons explaining why we really need donor to help us deliver.

So that connection between the top level and the lower level points. That question that we talked about in the last section is in place and in holds and works really well. So whenever you see a message that you think, gosh, that's a bit soft, have a think is an observation, or is it actually a message? Ask yourself, so what? Why should my audience care about that statement, and you'll find yourself drawing out a much more powerful message that then becomes much easier to organize, so that you can tell a much more clear and compelling, powerful story. Now this last example, here is an acronym may see it tests for rigor. And it's one that if you've worked with any consultants anywhere, you may well be familiar with it. Macy stands for mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive. So all of the ideas within our story need to be messy. Let me give you some steps to help you work out how to do that. So firstly, what we want to do is make sure that the ideas match each other. So in this example, on the left, we've got a message that says, we need to take three steps to fix why. Okay, what steps now look what's sitting underneath it. point one is an action share gap analysis results.

Point two is a reason gap analysis is the right approach. Third one is an action agree data sources for analysis, so they don't match. So the first thing we need to do, in this case, it's just a matter of simple reframing, we need to make sure that the ideas match each other, we work out, do we need reasons? Or do we need actions, which one do we need, and we make sure they line up. So now that I've made that change to the middle one, and turn that into an action, we were on our way. Step two, is now that they're all the same kind of thing. And they match the task is to order them put them in a sensible order.

Now, in this case, we're using time agree gap analysis is the right approach, agreed data sources for analysis. And thirdly, share gap analysis results. Now the next thing to do if we're to pass the mec test, and make sure our ideas are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive is to identify gaps. And in this case, there's a really common and yet glaring one. Where do we say we're going to do the actual analysis? Honestly, the most fundamental, the most obvious steps are the ones we're most likely to miss. So now that we've identified the gap, the natural thing is to fill it. So you can see what I've done there is add that fourth point in in the third place within that set of ideas. So now we have four actions that pass the mec test. There are a complete set of ideas that contain no gaps and no overlaps. They're mutually exclusive. They're separate, and they're collectively exhaustive.

They cover everything they provide the four steps needed to fix them. Why. So I hope you find that helpful. I've given you three different thinking strategies there that we go to use throughout the program. We've looked at top down and bottom up thinking, we've looked at the so what question and we've also looked at Missy, one of the key thinking tools we use absolutely everywhere. Thanks so much and I look forward to seeing you in the next module. Bye for now.