• Peter Franklin

So What Strategy

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

The So What Strategy by Davina Stanley and Gerard Castles.

Last year I was contacted by another Pyramid Thinking evangelist – Davina Stanley of Clarity Thought Partners in Australia.

Davina and her colleagues have been working with private and public sector organisations for decades helping them bring “Clarity” to their communications. Both were trained in the discipline of Pyramid Thinking whilst they were in McKinsey’s….and have taken the original Minto concept positively forward from its 1960’s heritage.

Davina was interested in our thinking on the subject, and we compared notes. It was during that conversation that I became aware of the book she and her co-founder, Gerard Castles, had recently published called “The So What Strategy”. I immediately ordered a copy and have now finished it – hence this review.

If you are a fan of Pyramid Thinking this book is an excellent addition to your library.

If you are not aware of the discipline, but you are interested in communicating effectively, it deserves a place on your bookshelf because it is a short, accessible , and practical guide to creating more compelling communications.

The central thesis of the book is that once you have mastered the general principles of Pyramid Thinking then experience has shown that communications tend to fall into one of seven forms of logic. So there is no need to build a Pyramid logic from scratch – you can make life easier by using one of the seven templates as a starting point.

Each of these templates is appropriate for a different communications context. For example, you use the “Traffic Light” template for updates, The “Houston. We have a problem” template for explaining how to solve problems, “The pitch” for pitches and proposals etc.

The book also throws up thought provoking challenges to those like myself brought up on a traditional Pyramid Thinking diet.

  • There is great emphasis put on thinking through “Purpose” at the outset of creating a communication. Why are communicating in the first place – what do you want your audience to do after absorbing the communication?

  • The “Situation” and “Complication” are substituted with “Context” and “Trigger”. These terms are both better descriptors of what you are looking to say. In particular “Trigger” can be a threat you are facing or an opportunity you want to grasp – whilst a “Complication” immediately makes you think of a problem or difficulty you are trying to overcome.

Well worth a read to:

  • Learn about the 7 patterns that keep re-occurring in communications

  • Challenge yourself to evolve the discipline to strengthen your communications even further


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