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Transcript: Grouping Storylines – Application

Now it's time to dig in more deeply to really understand how to use groupings in your actual work.

I've got five tips for you here to help you build great groupings.

Firstly, make sure that you have no less than two ideas in any group. One idea after all isn't a group is just a thing.

Secondly, make sure there's no more than five ideas in each of your groups. More than that doesn't push your thinking and your synthesis far enough and it also becomes really hard for your reader to keep up with you.

Thirdly, make sure all the sibling ideas, answer the same question posed by their parent. Make sure that power of one is in play. One idea leads to one question and one type of response in the readers mind.

Fourthly, make sure all the sibling ideas are the same kind of thing. They're all reasons, all actions, all criteria or so on.

And lastly, try to offer insight rather than just descriptions wherever you can. Insight requires synthesis, descriptions request summary. Try and be as insightful as you possibly can.

Now I'm going to give you some examples to show you how this plays out in real life storylines. This first example is a very straightforward update. I'm not going to read through all the detail with you, but I am going to describe to you how it works. So the context and trigger are very straightforward. This is obviously a note that Michael writes very often. Now it's outlining the priorities for next week. And you can see it answers the question with our top priority for the next week remains ‘Getting back to customers when we say we will'. You can almost imagine the weekly storyline saying our top priority for next week will be… and then you see under that he's got the four top priorities organized by magnitude with the most important thing first to the least important thing last.

If we look at the next example, it's a proposal. We are best placed to assist you with issue X. Well, why is that? Well, we have deeply understand your issue, we have a strong approach, we have a strong team with experience, we have a strong track record, we can provide a cost effective solution. So you can see there a clear set of patterns that form a story, rather than just a list of things that say that were the right people for you.

Now, I'm going to show you the same story but told three different ways. In this first example, we have a descriptive solution, which is more of a summary than a synthesis. So Hiperama should take a comprehensive approach to improving customer service. Why is that? Store level staff do not have a customer service mindset, store level staffing model does not support good customer service, and performance management processes company wide do not promote customer service. Now, if you look at those three points at the top line there, they're a description of what has happened in the past. They're not leaning forward.

If we look at this next example, though, we've got the same answer sitting at the top. But we've got a much better use of synthesis at that top line. So we have, for example, Hiperama should communicate to store staff, the importance of customer service, that's a recommendation. It's more insightful just saying, much better than just saying, we have a problem. The second one Hiperama should create a flexible staffing model that provides better coverage. Lastly, Hiperama should build customer service into its performance management system. So you've got three recommendations there to take together to lead you to think that that idea at the top is probably true.

Now let's have a look at this third example, which is a bad example. Because what I want to show you here is not just examples that work, they look too easy. Once you start to see some examples that don't work, you start to see why the logic really matters. So in this example, Hiperama should take, should improve customer service. Then look at what comes underneath. In the grouping on the right, you've only got one point underneath. It's not enough, it's not a grouping. When you look at the top line, you can see that they're not all the same kind of thing. Two of them are actions, and one of them's a reason. So they're not at all parallel. So when you start to dig in here, you can see that these points are not belonging into the same story, more thinking needs to be done in order for that to be clear and to be logically robust. To make sure that your argument really stacks up. Now, when you're using the Neosi (*note – neosi is no longer available) to pull your ideas together, you'll be able to see the relationships between your ideas more clearly. And it'll help you remind you, for example, that you need to have more than one idea in a grouping, but ideally, no more than five and definitely no more than seven. If you can get away with it, if it's at all possible.

So what's next for you? What I'd like you to do is take the concept challenge that's below this video. Then take some time to play with Neosi (*note – neosi is no longer available, use the blank templates in the library) see to help you focus on your thinking, to make sure you're thinking about your structure, not the document itself. And then test your ideas with a colleague. Sense test them to make sure they fit with your context, but also that the logic is really tight.