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The pyramid principle: Logic in writing [Unknown Binding]

Barbara Minto
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Minto International; Rev. 2d ed edition (1978)
  • ISBN-10: 0960191011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0960191017
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some prime "steak" but not much "sizzle" 23 May 2007
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FIne theory but difficult to read 23 Dec 2011
By Melvin
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
4.0 out of 5 stars The power of pyramid principle 12 Sep 2000
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all business people 4 Jan 2002
By A Customer
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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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crystal 12 Jan 2003
By John
My abstract reasoning ability has never really had the legs to organise some of the complex proposals and reports that I write for my clients. Every time that I've been prepared to admit the fact and consult this book it has never failed me - and it seems the clarity of my work is then so conspicuous that, as often as not, the client will congratulate me upon it. Thank you Barbara Minto !
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A superb book with many valuable recommendations and tips for writing well-structured business documents. The framework described in it is highly effective in any non-narrative writing and it is used in most top-class consultancy firms.
The book is also good for gaining some insight on hypothesis-led problem solving, both in the case of inductive and in the case of deductive reasoning. In this respect, it is full of examples that challenge unstructured and unorganized thinking and writing.
It may be however useful to complement it with other books on creative thinking (e.g. Edward De Bono's), mind-maps (e.g. Tony Buzan's), and psycho-linguistic approaches (e.g. NLP, TA, etc.)
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 10 April 2007
By O. Luke
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read the reviews and details of this book I expected a lot, but sadly it did not live up to my expectations. It provides a structured frame work for presenting your ideas but that is about it. The book is badly laid out and at times difficult to follow. An example of this being comments like `the example below' when the example is actually on the next page! The examples, when you can find them, are not clearly explained or worked through. Frankly if the book was written using the method it teaches it clearly demonstrates short comings in the approach as a whole. The second half of the book focuses on Pyramid thinking. That is to use the approach to sort through your thinking much like the presentation technique introduced in the first section of the book. Little reference is made to this second section in the official Book Description and considering you lose half the book to it you may end up with less book than you expected.

It may be a personal preference but I find mind mapping considerably more effective. In fact I find mind maps so effective I always use them to layout documents and presentations. Whilst this book will give you a general layout to let your ideas 'move off the page' they won't make that move without adding other elements to the document such as considering the end audience or plain old good written layout - two points that don't get mentioned in this book.

All in all an expensive book that is not worth its price tag. Save the cash and buy a cheaper Mind Mapping book instead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very happy thank you!
Published 5 days ago by Mrs A Fincham
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Improved - Don't buy the 3rd edition
I was given the previous 3rd edition as a part of a consulting course that I found extremely valuable.

I purchased this edition that has been reprinted this year. Read more
Published 18 months ago by M. Buckwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful in technology and engineering too.
This book is often recommended for creating business reports. That is , to some extent, quite a restricted use of it. Read more
Published 24 months ago by C. Dive-reclus
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful in some contexts but limited applicability in spite of...
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. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2010 by AK
1.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily complex. Inaccessible to the average reader.
When I first heard about this book from a colleague at work, who endorsed it wholeheartedly, I ordered it the very next day. Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2009 by Michael Gentle
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking, speaking and writing clearly
This little book will help you in mastering creative thinking. Are you frustrated by the fact that the boss just seems not to get it? Read more
Published on 7 Nov 2008 by Oskar Kahn
3.0 out of 5 stars dense
The advice is good but as an example of clarity and structure in writing and thought, which this is book is meant to teach, I found it a disappointment. Read more
Published on 17 Dec 2003
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