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The Pyramid Principle: Present Your Thinking So Clearly That Ideas Jump Off the Page and into the Reader's Mind Hardcover – 6 Nov 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 3 edition (6 Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0273659030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0273659037
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 472,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Barbara Minto
developed The Pyramid Principle through her early work as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, Inc. She now runs her own consultancy, Minto International, Inc., specializing in teaching the Pyramid Principle to people whose major training is in business or the professions, but whose jobs nevertheless require them to produce complex reports, analyses, memorandums, or presentations.

She has taught her course to most of the major consulting firms in the United States and Europe, as well as to many of the world's largest corporations and government organizations. She also taught Bob Waterman and Tom Peters, among others, while lecturing at McKinsey.

 

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book was first published in the US in 1987 and then in the UK in 1991. The review that follows is of an edition published in 2002. The title refers to the core concept within the framework Barbara Minto recommends in order to present material "so clearly that the ideas jump off the page and into the reader's mind." The same framework will also guide and inform preparation of presentations to groups. According to Minto, research clearly indicates that "the mind automatically sorts information into distinctive pyramidal groupings in order to comprehend it. Any grouping of ideas is easier to comprehend if it arrives presorted into its pyramid. This suggests that every written document should be deliberately structured to form a pyramid of ideas." In this volume, Minto explains how to structure the provision of material in ways and to the extent that accommodate the structure of how those who receive, absorb, and digest it.

Others have expressed their reactions to this book. Here are two of mine. First, if I understand Minto's thesis (and I may not), the three aforementioned "findings about the way the mind works" seem to refer far more to the subconscious than to the conscious mind. If so, I question how Minto's highly rational approach to writing clear business documents can accommodate the need to communicate effectively in non-verbal ways (e.g. body language and tone of voice). Minto's approach requires completing a rigorous, disciplined, and focused process (a geometric progression, really) that presupposes that the recipient of the given document will absorb and digest (not merely organize) the material in a comparable manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Oct 2010
Format: Hardcover
Minto's book reflects as much the organisation (McKinsey & co.) and industry (management consulting) she comes from, as it does advice on structuring writing and thinking. By that I mean that the writing style propagated is going to be directly applicable to management consulting, accepted well internally (i.e. within consultancies), while clients might continue to cringe at it. Having seen the system from both sides (as a consultant and a client), I can understand how.

The basic premise of the book is to introduce some standard consulting tools for structuring thinking and writing

- the pyramid principle of organising your thoughts and summarising up front (drawing the conclusion for the reader from the start) rather than at the end and presenting directive supporting arguments later;
- the situation, complication resolution (question-answer) structure;
- the MECE (mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive) way of organising thinking.

All of these are occasionally useful - dealing with relatively straightforward problems in situations with little dynamic complexity, and exclusively for business type writing. While it is the natural inclination of a consultant to be strongly prescriptive (thou shall do this or that) and while inductive reasoning is preferable (as one can hide weak arguments better that way) this is not an approach that will always work with clients (or in a non-consulting corporate environment), and is certainly not something that will help you writing academic publications, or help you in fiction writing at all - in fact one needs to throw all the advice given here overboard before attempting any of these latter two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melvin on 23 Dec 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is, surpringly enough, tough to read. Minto raises awareness about the delivery of presentations but her own delivery is far from effective. Instead of a consistent and fluent overview of her model she delivers it in a fragmented way making it difficult to keep the overview. Maybe one big, easy to understand case to present the whole model would have worked better. Her theory is fine but her examples are difficult and overall this book leaves me with a slightly disappointed feeling. A fine theory but a difficult to read book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Sep 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best book I have ever read regarding business writing. It has had an amazing effect on not only my writing and presentation development but also the structure of my thinking.
Given that this is a book on logical writing it is not the easiest book to read, but don't let this put you off. The method is used by the management consultants Ernst & Young and McKinsey and that is a pretty impressive petigree.
Altough the principle is straight forward the book gives you lots of examples to work through and will provide a useful reference for the future.
I first read this book when I relaised kept seeing it on the bookcases of managers in a number of companies. Make sure that you have it on yours.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jan 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a practicing managment consultant, this book has been a guidepost not only for logical writing but as the basis of a hypothesis led problem solving approach. The rigour of her approach and the clarity that leads from it is an ideal to which we all should strive. I unhesitatingly recommend it to all who are in the business of solving problems and communicating insights.
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