The first time I recall using the inversion strategy was during my interview with McKinsey.
I remember a Senior Engagement Manager called Saimond putting me through my paces around a case and then posing a leading observation.
“So, you have given me some great demand side ideas there …”
As someone with a kindergarten teaching and then communication background I had not used economic concepts much. But thankfully I had helped review my university boyfriend's economics essays and twigged that he wanted more and different ideas from me.
So, I responded that he was right, and that perhaps he would like some supply side ideas too?
I then invented some on the spot. Using opposites has turned out to be a useful thinking strategy in many situations since.
It is also another model discussed in Shane Parrish's new book The Great Mental Models which I posted about last week.
Given Clarity First members have asked me to pick my way through Shane's models in bite-sized stages, I am extending my series of posts on this book. Unsurprisingly, today's focus is on opposites, or as Shane Parrish calls them ‘inversions'.
Choosing options: One natural place to use this strategy is when choosing a set of options to evaluate. He offers two strategies to help you use inversions:
- Start by assuming that what you are trying to prove is either true or false, then show what else would have to be true
- Instead of aiming directly for your goal, think deeply about what you want to avoid and then see what options are left over
Checking our ideas are MECE: We can also use inversions in other ways when we are identifying whether we have a complete – MECE – set of ideas in our communication.
Clarity First members received a deeper email on this topic with a list of ways they can use inversions to strengthen their communication.
The waitlist for the program starting in late February 2021 will open soon. Watch out for my email as I will be limiting the number of places available and ‘Waitlisters' will get the first opportunity to join.
Our communication is only as good as the ideas that underpin it.
I hope that helps.
PS – Related posts include:
From this series …
1. A fabulous thinking tool to help you solve problems and communicate
2. Further thinking tools
1. How to use your critical thinking abilities to turbo charge your communication
PPS – I receive a small commission if you click the link and decide to purchase a copy of Shane's book from Amazon.
Davina has been helping experts communicate complex ideas since joining McKinsey as a communication specialist 20+ years ago.
She helps experts clarify their thinking so they can prepare powerful and strategic communication in any format. It might mean preparing for a difficult meeting, getting ready for a project steering committee, putting forward a business case or writing a board paper.
She bases her approach on The Minto Pyramid PrincipleⓇ combined with other powerful techniques to help experts of all kinds globally strengthen their communication skills.