Barbara Minto, the first lady partner at McKinsey’s, and author of the seminal book the Pyramid Principle, outlined the need for presenting proposals and recommendations in the form of a nested hierarchy of logic if they were to maximise their chances of success.
This thinking approach is also sometimes known as "Top Down Thinking" or the "Minto" approach. We have augmented the discipline by adding a focus on "Benefits" - what your audience gets from your product or service. This is the "Plus" in Pyramid Thinking Plus.
At Compelling Propositions we have all had the good fortune to be trained in this methodology, and are now both expert practitioners and advocates of the approach. We started off by using the approach for all our own communications activities as consultants operating in the energy and utilities world (www.enstra.com) . We also used it in any proposition development work for clients.
As our clients got to see the power of the approach they asked us to train them, which we did.
This then led to the creation of the training part of our business. We set this up as a separate brand targeted at all sectors, not just energy and utilities. Over the last decade we have trained organisations in pharmaceuticals, financial services, IT, engineering, management consultancy, the public sector, and of course in the energy and utilities sector.
The training is delivered in three different formats, each of which covers the same material.:
1. Face to face. In your offices, or in a venue arranged by you,Typically for a group of 8-10 delegates. The group work through the materials and a case study on day one and then each works individually on their own communication which they present in a 1 to 1 one hour mentoring session with a tutor the next day.
2. Group training on-line. Again 8-10 delegates. In this variant the material is worked through in a series of three webinars, using on-line break-out rooms for syndicate work.. The first two sessions last 2.5 hours each, and the final session lasts 90 minutes. Each participant then works on their own communication and presents it to a tutor in an online tutorial lasting one hour.
3. Self paced learning. The programme is available as a series of 10 modules based on a self defined communications project. This is hosted on a leading global learning management platform, but could be hosted on your own in-house system. Again each participant finishes the programme with a live 1 to 1 tutorial during which they present and refine their logic for their communication.
Whichever method you choose you will cover the same theory and get the chance to put the theory into practice on your own real live communications project.
So, should you sign up for Pyramid Thinking Plus?
By embracing Pyramid Thinking Plus you will become more successful.
This is because:your stakeholders will say "Yes" more often.
This in turn will lead to:
Happier customers who stay with you longer,
More regulatory approvals
and more internal business case approvals - which you need to make things happen.
Read what some of our clients have to say:
James Harvey, Managing Partner - Economic Insight
"The Pyramid Thinking Plus training we commissioned for our new recruits was extremely well received. They found the mix of theory and practical group work gave them a sound grounding in why and how to deploy the Pyramid Thinking Plus approach. In particular they welcomed the individual mentoring sessions on day 2 to go through a communication logic for something they were actually working on in real life. They found this an excellent way of taking the theory and putting it into practice."
Neill Ryan, CEO , VRM Tech
"We recognised that we needed to make our propositions clearer, more compelling for our potential buyers. The decision was to try Pyramid Thinking as the way to structure our thoughts, both individually and as a group. Peter Franklin and Ian Campbell ran a one-day training course for our top team and business developers. They got the approach across well, and made the subject entertaining. In addition, they have been mentoring us on the first few propositions we have been developing using this new approach which has been a great help in embedding the approach for the team. I am very pleased with the end result, a great improvement on what we had before – much more focused on what the customer needs than what we do from a technology point of view. It has changed our thinking for the better."
Andy Bradley, MD, Delta Energy and Environment
"Delta-ee is a knowledge based research and consulting company specialising in ‘new energy’. It’s critical for us to communicate the key messages coming from our work clearly and with impact, as the ‘new energy’ landscape is extremely complex and our clients often have little time to read long reports. Pyramid Thinking has provided Delta-ee with the framework and principles to structure both our consultancy proposals and our research reports, and is a tool we are now consistently using throughout our business. It helps us before, during and after projects by:
· Helping us to more precisely define the scope of work, identify what is required to fully address client needs and to develop winning consultancy bids
· With a better understanding at the beginning of each project, delivery can be planned and managed more effectively
· Upon delivery, clients benefit from the clarity of the reporting, which also enables others in the Delta-ee team to quickly acquire the learnings and cross-sell
The combination of engaging workshops and thoughtful mentoring advice provided by Peter & Ian has enabled our team to quickly learn and start applying the Pyramid Principles, and we are already seeing the benefits of our investment’.
Bill Hodson, Business Development Director, Frazer-Nash Consultancy
"We have been gradually adopting Pyramid Thinking to support our business development activities in Frazer-Nash over recent years and it has been a significant help to our ongoing growth. Our bids are now routinely built around the clear and compelling logic that the discipline of the technique provides. Adopting Pyramid Thinking has had a direct impact on our win rates.
Many of our staff have been trained by Peter Franklin of Compelling Propositions, who is himself both an expert practitioner and trainer of the principles of Pyramid Thinking (also sometimes called Top-Down Thinking). Feedback from the courses he has run over the years for us shows that he achieves a good mix between communicating the theory, getting delegates to put the theory into practice and providing an entertaining and stimulating day of learning."