Thinking Tools #6 – Why you need a latticework of models in your head

Thinking Tools #6 – Why you need a latticework of models in your head

 This week’s post leads me to talk about patterns, which we find to be an essential communication tool.

 

Shane Parrish of The Great Mental Models quotes Charlie Munger in this regard. He discusses the importance of relying on a ‘latticework of theory’ rather than ‘banging back facts’.

 

“The first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. 

If the facts don’t hang together in a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form … 

You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.”

In our world, we work with a number of models, but most particularly grouping and deductive storylines.

These two mental models blend synthesis and logic to distil and deliver powerful messages.

We have gone further than using these two models alone and developed patterns that provide useful models for our clients who need to communicate complex ideas.

We introduce these in The So What Strategy and help people take full advantage of them in Clarity First by doing three things.

  1. Learn the foundational principles of synthesisgrouping and deductive structures, which we focus on during our initial Warm Up and Core levels of the program.
  2. Identify which of the seven most commonly used patterns suit your purposes best. This is for people who have completed the Core Curriculum and then progressed to the Sprint Level.
  3. Establish which situations merit a ‘flip’ of one or more patterns, where you leverage your understanding of the basic principles to modify a pattern to suit your specific needs. We had a great discussion about this recently with our most advanced members who are at what we call the Momentum level. Having the depth of understanding combined with the intellectual agility to adjust the patterns quickly to suit your needs is a fabulous thinking ability.

 >> Click here to join the waitlist for the 2021 Clarity First Program. We’ll let you know as soon as the doors open, given we are offering only 50 places this time.

You may also like to get a copy of our ‘Pitch Your Boss' kit, which includes text that you can cut and paste into an email seeking support to join the program.

Have a great week,

Cheers,
Davina

 


PS – Related posts include:

Past posts from this series …

  1. A fabulous thinking tool to help you solve problems and communicate 
  2. Further thinking tools
  3. Thinking Tools #3 – Using inversions to identify gaps in our thinking
  4. Thinking Tools #4 – Getting out of your own way 
  5. Thinking Tools #5 – Avoiding Blind Spots
Past posts on thinking skills …
  1.  How to use your critical thinking abilities to turbo charge your communication
  2. Strengthen your critical thinking abilities
  3. 4 Ideas to make structured thinking stick

 

PPS – I receive a small commission if you click the link and decide to purchase a copy of Shane's book from Amazon.

 

PRESENTED BY DAVINA STANLEY

Davina has helped smart people all over the world clarify and communicate complex ideas for 20+ years.

She began this work when she joined McKinsey & Company as a communication specialist in Hong Kong where she helped others use the Minto Pyramid Principle. She continued helping others when living in New York, Tokyo and now back in Australia.

Her clients include mid to upper level experts across many disciplines across Australia, Asia Pacific, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Why you should ditch your corporate templates

Why you should ditch your corporate templates

I had a wonderful session with a team of engineers from an energy company this week.

They told me they had done something risky and that it worked.

They ditched their corporate template​​ when preparing their business case and got a ‘fast yes'.

“We managed to have 6 people working on the business case at once. Everyone knew their part and how that fitted in to the overarching storyline.

“We had two years of supporting information that we were able to quickly sort through and synthesise.

We ended up writing and getting it approved within 2 weeks which was an amazing outcome.”

Charles, team leader

In the past they had thought they had no option but to fill in the sections within the business case template even though they hated it. It was frustrating to use as it caused them to repeat themselves while also including all sorts of irrelevant information.​

The template was typical: it included a long list of ‘pots to throw ideas into', or categories they needed to fill in. You will be familiar with the sort of thing. It's useful for collecting ‘data' and making sure the team has thought of everything during their analytical process.

Background

Proposal

Goal Statement

Scope

Approach

Key Milestones / Deliverables

Enterprise Architecture (interfaces)

Constraints / issues

Dependencies

Financial consideration

Summary

Assumptions

Benefits

Non-financial benefits

Benefits management plan

Risks (3 types)

Change assessment (many types)

Next steps

Recommendation (at the very end …)

The template design created extra tension for them as they were caught between ‘filling it in' and a leadership team that wanted them to keep it short.

So, the team decided to do something different.

Here's what they did instead.

Step 1: Agreed the storyline structure. The team leader sat down with one other senior team member who was also advanced in their use of our techniques to think through the high-level storyline structure they needed to prepare.

They went back to first principles to think about what they needed to achieve and where their audience's ‘heads were at'. They then thought about what they needed to explain if they were to achieve what they believed they needed to with this presentation.

Although they then discussed some ideas around the messaging, they didn't fill in the structure. They just made a call as to which of our seven storyline patterns suited their situation the best.

Step 2: Brainstormed the messaging for each part of the storyline. They then called a team meeting to talk about preparing the paper for the business case. During this meeting they used the storyline as a framework for the discussion, which led to a brainstormed list of points to be discussed under each of the four key messages that supported their main point.

Step 3: Wrote it up. Four people took away one section each to write it up, which turned out to be fast and easy to do. Why? Because they all

  • Had a clear view of the overall story
  • Understood how their piece related to the whole, and so avoided overlapping with what their colleagues were to contribute
  • Were confident in the messages they needed to convey within their own area
  • Were able to tell the story in a logical, cohesive way that enabled them to support their single point of view without feeling as though they need to discuss topics that were not relevant to their story

Step 4: Finalised and presented the paper – and got a ‘fast yes' from the leadership team along with a series of compliments. Here are just two:

“I didn't even need to read the whole thing. The thinking was so clear and transparent at the top, I knew I could trust what you were saying.”

“This was super easy to read”

Interestingly, none of  the leaders complained that they had deviated from the corporate template.

The team was also pleased that the story flowed with what they felt was a ‘unified voice' even though different people had crafted different sections.

So, there you have it. 

A great real life example of where a business team thinks from first principles about ‘getting things done' rather than following procedure because it's the norm.

 

PRESENTED BY DAVINA STANLEY

Davina has helped smart people all over the world clarify and communicate complex ideas for 20+ years.

She began this work when she joined McKinsey & Company as a communication specialist in Hong Kong where she helped others use the Minto Pyramid Principle. She continued helping others when living in New York, Tokyo and now back in Australia.

Her clients include mid to upper level experts across many disciplines across Australia, Asia Pacific, New Zealand, the UK and the US.