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Transcript: Sound Bite – Deductive



Hi everyone, Davina here. I just wanted to bring to you a sound bite from a session that we had earlier this week and it was an absolutely fantastic one.

Phil brought along a really great example of a solid storyline that was very clear, was very true and it wasn't so bad in terms of structure either but it needed to have a real dial turned, just to really squeeze the juice out of it and make sure that it told a really powerful story. And so that the main thought here is that deductive storylines need to do more than just flow, they need to pack a real punch, they need to deliver real value, they need to deliver a powerful case.

So let's dive in and have a look at two things. What I'd like to do is work through here and just illustrate why each element must be technically sound and give you a better sense of what that means. And then secondly, have a look at how the interplay between all of the different elements is key to nailing each one. Not just making it clear, but making it really powerful. So let's dig in and have a look.

So I've got the example here in front of us, the first example that he brought to the workshop and I have to say, this is a really fantastic thing to do. So he'd mapped it all out in a storyline template like this and I've highlighted in orange the elements that were concerning to me. So my first glance, I thought, actually this is really clean. He's got all the elements there. Obviously, he's used a template that's great, a storylining template but then I sort of had a quick look and the first thing that jumped out at me was actually the last thing that I'll mentioned here but I looked at it and I thought you know this this flows but something's niggling me. There's something not quite right here. And I wonder what it is? So I got the 10 point test out and started working through the storyline, one by one.

Now the first question, of course, is all about whether the context is right, whether the storyline starts at the right place in time. And that first sentence does that. But the second one, ‘the success of this project depends having access enough, rather experienced engineers' didn't really do much for me. I thought, ‘well yeah, of course it does.' It doesn't add any value. So that bothered me a bit. So I was inclined to give that a bit of a half not a whole whole number. Number two, the trigger describes why you're communicating with this audience right. Now I actually thought that was pretty fine. Three, single question we want to answer. Why should we add two additional engineer, data engineers, to project alpha? Now that on the surface reads to be absolutely fine, but once I knew more about Phil's situation when we went through the hot seat together, it wasn't nearly nuanced enough to draw out the subtleties of this highly competitive situation.

So then when we come down to the So What. Is there one? Yes, absolutely, one point for that. Is it 25 words or less? Yes. But does it summarize or ideally synthesize, and I thought, ‘well, it summarizes' but you know what? Having two additional engineer's would enable us to deliver on the prior committed scope. You already said you'd commit. You already said you'll deliver by July one. What's going on here? What am I missing? There's some value missing here. So that bothered me. And then I came down to the next question. The key support is a strong grouping or deductive structure, I looked at it and because there's no visual cue there, it's just three boxes, I wasn't sure if it was grouping or deductive to start with. And I had a look at it and at first I thought, actually, I think that's just meant to be a grouping. And then I looked at the last point went, Oh, no, that's an action. Okay. But it does, it's not strong enough. It's flows, but it's not strong enough because it doesn't explain powerfully why these engineers need to be moved to this team right now. I just didn't think it had enough ‘oomf'. When I looked at second and third level supports, obviously, we've just got a second level here down at the dot points below, strong grouping or deductive. I thought actually the first two, they were fine, you can see they're parallel. If we take the left hand column there, we have, we have, we have, so that's good. There's no overlap. We've completed this, we've tested that, we've documented that, great, nice grouping. Next one.

What at this level, we've defined the solution, made some progress and need to accelerate. That's actually good, past, present-ish, and then future so that's not too bad. That's okay. But then I looked at the third one, I went, Oh, hang on, what's going on here? This is where using structure helps us to draw out the problems with the synthesis. So recap. The program is still a priority. And I thought, hang on that's in the wrong place that doesn't belong there. We need to data engineers. Yes, you do, but that's not an action. And then the next one's not an action either so there, if it's supposed to be deductive, they don't actually work. So they don't belong there structurally. So that was my initial take on it when I went through and I thought it's a really good example of how something sort of looks okay on the surface. But when you start using the 10 Point Test, you can flush out what's really wrong. So that gives you a sense and you can download it, it's there, if you want to keep it in front of you as a reference as we look at the next version. But it just, like I said, draws out what I think was not working so well there, even though it was a really good start. So when we start to work out, well, what is it that's wrong here? And how do we fix it? One of the things that comes into play here is the interplay between all the elements, which is absolutely key to nailing each one individually. Those relationships between the ideas of part of where the magic is, so let's have a look at what was happening here.

So what I've got on the screen here, and you can pause if you want to read it some more, I'm just going to describe what's here and keep moving but give you the freedom to pause. So this was the what we ended up with at the end of the session. And I would say this was, this was a major improvement and it really added a lot more power into what we were doing. And I'll talk through why that's the case. But I'll also talk through why it wasn't quite right. But at the end of our session we got so far, we agreed that that was good enough for then. And then I went back to Phil the following day and said, Actually, let me just show you what I was thinking about the subtle ways in which we could take it a step further.

So let's have a look here and dive into each element. So firstly, the context, the piece that I thought would have added a lot more value, and you'll see in the final version, when I show it to you, was editing that second sentence in that context to say the project will deliver this. So in Phil's situation, this is why this was really important, that first sentence we're working on project alpha one, of the top three strategic initiatives in the division. Absolutely true. But what that doesn't tell you is this is a competition for resources. And he's competing with the second most important of the three initiatives. And he is the third. So at number one initiative, they've got all the resources they need. Number two, that they also are short. And number three, Phil's project, is also short and for different reasons they're short, and part of the whole demand on them but also the opportunity is coming up because of the Covid environment. Some people are being let go from their teams. So that's and that's outlined there in the trigger. So that's material that the team knows. But just coming back to that competitive nature of what was going on in that context, by reminding the audience what this project will deliver, I thought was just going to add a bit of extra value rather than just saying we're one of the top three actually, remember, we going to do something really good for the business with this project. So that's what we tweaked there. Then when we come a bit further down, the question is really, why should we transfer the two Team B data engineers to Project Alpha now, not just anytime but now. And that's a subtle shift that actually is really important when you get down to what the message that he's going to convey is all about. And so the key message is, that we came up with after the session, at the end of the session was, these two additional engineers will cement our July One delivery and acquisition of X new customers in Q3 and 4 while also ramping customer value. Now, that is so much more powerful than just saying you should transfer to engineers to our team so we could commit, we can deliver on what we've already promised.

And that's where the vulnerability really came out actually in Phil's situation because he knew that he'd committed to having the work done by July one with the resources that he had in his team, and he had been trying everything to get the thing over the line and with the resources that he had, but he'd been really struggling, it was a really difficult project actually. And so by changing this as a positive and focusing on what this, having these engineers involved will submit the delivery, sure that's not being untruthful, so you're still referencing that, but actually adding the real value to the business that came out as to why he should be the person not project 2, but why he should be the person to get those data engineers and we'll get into the detail as to how that case stacked up.

Now as we look through the supporting points, because we've made that next level down that top line support much more powerful. So what we did was merged what he had as his first two sections together. And we said here, we've completed the first three milestones for the Project Alpha and more. So previously, the first point there, said that we've completed the first three milestones and then we went on to the next part, which was the flow we've made good progress on the next part, actually, all of that's about stuff you've done. And that's what they need to see all together. And then what it leaves room for in the second point in the So What is to actually add the real twist as to why it matters that these people come to Phil's team now. And so by merging and grouping those ideas on the left that gave us room to absolutely, you know, like I said, squeeze the juice out of the lemon, really make it strong. And so what we said there was these engineers are uniquely qualified to help us accelerate this program. And ‘accelerate the program' again, is a really nice way to do it. Because what it's saying is that, you know, cements meeting July one and they don't necessarily need to know how far behind they are. But what it does do is also say it actually is going to give them the momentum after that, which is really part of what this is all about. And he was really resistant there and using the word unique, you know, because so many people use that word. It can be a bit overused, but he felt that it was really true. Which is why we left it there. And we thought, well, if we can think of a better word afterwards, that's great but for now, that looks that looks like a really good word.

And if you start looking underneath here, you're starting to see the case as to why these engineers should come right now. They've got critical skill sets needed to accelerate the model building and test integrate, testing to integrate the additional projects, they can ramp up instantly into this work given it's a perfect fit for their skills. And provides a future career opportunities for them which he thought their manager would actually the current manager would really want to see that they're stepping into something that would help them progress. And it will help them acquire new customers faster than planned for the business while compounding even more. So there's a really good value there for the business. So there's value for the team. There's value for the project and for their skills and there's value for the business. So really nice story there. And then when we get to the end one, now we've got you know, we need management to assign, so we left that the same in the setting. And then we've got some points underneath. Now, there's something here that I want to talk about because in deductive storylines, or rather, when you're choosing whether you use a deductive storyline or a grouping, what you want to have is substance here at the end. There's a difference between a next step and the therefore of a deductive storyline. And in this case, this is a bit thin. So we agreed that it was so much better than what was there before. And we understood the problem and we left the session there, but I'm going to show you what the alternative could be. And the reason why I actually took the trouble to go back to Phil and show him how it could have turned out. So let's see the points there, check they're interested in committing to the team for a minimum of a year now. I added that in as a suggestion that minimum for year to give it some sort of substance because step one check they're interested in coming to the team. Yeah, okay. Of course you do that, assign them to the team, maintain their current packages. I mean, that's all pretty vanilla stuff, that's ‘tell HR to do their job'. It's nothing exciting. It's nothing differentiated about the approach that you would go to to get these people on your team, which is why I think it's a next step. It's really just saying, you know, confirm that it's okay to go to HR and move these people onto the team. One sentence is really all that's needed there. It's not substantive. But like I said, for pragmatic reasons we left it.

But coming on a step further, or actually, let me recap first of all. What I want you to see here is the flow is is that the flow in those top line points is still there but the substance is so much more powerful because we didn't allow it just to flow. We said, hang on, that comment has to deliver a real punch. It has to be really strong so that it can move on to the next level in the story. And I think it does do that it adds much more value than the way it was there before and the way it flowed. So we've synthesized further, okay, without losing the meaning. But taking to that next level, I've taken away the therefore. And I made a decision that I thought the two elements there that were previously considered the statement and the comment, and this won't always work. But in this case, I think it does, that you can actually separate them out as individual points. So that's what I did. So you'll see there that those two points are largely the same, but I made a bit of a tweak. So let me go back to the beginning of this example, and just work through the elements that I changed and improved.

So you can see the whole thing come together because it is that integrated picture that we're talking about here. So firstly, that sentence that we needed to actually just make sure we were reminding the leadership team of the value this project was going to deliver. And so you'll see I've highlighted it there, this project is key, as it will deliver X new customers to us in the near term underwriting our financial position during this challenging COVID period. So here we have, deliver X new customers in the near term, which is a really important thing at any time. And then putting the kicker there, this will underwrite our financial position and that was the thing that was completely missing in the previous story. And during COVID, you know, it's a challenging business environment, as these sort of downturns are, and particularly with COVID, because it's so sudden, but you know, being able to get Phil's project up and running and moving means that actually, they'll make sure they don't miss a deadline, it means that they will get customers in early. And if they delay too long, if they were slowed down too much, they would have lost some of those customers. So that second sentence is really important for two reasons. Reminding the senior leadership what they're what they're going to get, and taking it even further. There's something for now, that's really important here. And we've talked about the question there, we've improved that. Now, the next key thing that I did was add some more value to the second point.

So what I did was I actually added a dot point on the bottom that ‘help us move more quickly so we can acquire more, acquire more customers quickly'. And that's, I think, something to really draw out. And then once we once I put that there, I realized that the message for this section didn't overarch the whole story, which is again about that interplay. So I needed to come back up a level, so porpoise up, and say, Okay, well, what am I missing here? These engineers are uniquely qualified to help us accelerate this program and customer acquisition. There we go, that needed to be really highlighted.

So thanks for coming in and taking the time to watch this sound bite. I'm looking forward to doing more of these, where I draw out key learnings from sessions that we've had together as a group and really drive home the real subtleties that come out from building storylines so we can go beyond the generic form of clarity to actually packing a real punch and selling really powerful stories. So, thanks so much for your time. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Bye for now.