5.0 out of 5 stars Minto Pyramid Principle
I have organised a course given by Barbara for my direct reports at a major US computer company. The course reviews were all above 90%. From a selfish viewpoint, the major benefit was not having to plough through badly written memos, documents or presentations that failed to make any point clearly or concisely. From an organisational viewpoint, my staff learnt how to...
Published on May 14 2004 by Michael Peel
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why it's popular is more interesting
My advice is: avoid this book. Although it has certain usefulness, it can actually undermine your ability to think and write effectively.
1. As the reader from Los Angeles pointed out, the whole book is based on the premise that "the mind automatically sorts information into...pyramidal groupings" and that information "is easier to comprehend if it...
Published on May 15 2003 by H. Hai
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why it's popular is more interesting,
1. As the reader from Los Angeles pointed out, the whole book is based on the premise that "the mind automatically sorts information into...pyramidal groupings" and that information "is easier to comprehend if it arrives presorted into its pyramid." However, the author didn't give any scientific evidence to support this claim. With some reading in the cognitive science field, my understanding is (more knowledgeable readers can correct me on this), how our mind works is so complicated that no one has actually figured it out. I will be surprised to see any cognitive scientist will assert that the only way our mind works with information is to automatically sort them into pyramidal groups. My personal experience is, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't and sometimes we just can't. When you force issues into pyramidal groupings when you shouldn't, the result can be non-effective and confusing. I think the fact that this book itself is hard to comprehend and its principle is difficult to apply, is a result of the author's artificial pyramidal grouping.
2. Even though pyramidal grouping can work well in some circumstances, the author's attempt to make it an all-comprehending principle forced her to make endless amendment in circumstances its usefulness is questionable. The end result is unnecessary complication of its application. This makes the book far less useful and practical than a basic writing or logic book.
3. Even if the premise of pyramidal grouping is true, even if you can actually apply the principle, it will not necessarily make you an effective communicator. As an owner of a small consulting firm, my experience is that, having your ideas UNDERSTOOD is a totally different thing from having your ideas ACCEPTED. You can make your case perfectly logic and clear, but that dose not necessarily mean people will interested in or accept it. The only way to effectively communicate with other people, is to actively engage their interests, speak/write from their pre-knowledge and perception. That means sometimes you will have to purposefully speak/write in a non-pyramidal way even when the issues can be perfectly organized into pyramidal groupings.
Given the high ranking this book gets on this site, many people will certainly disagree with my review. However, I challenge those who gave this book high marks to enlist their ACTUAL improvements, such as more constructive ideas generated, higher acceptance rates of their work, etc, by actually USING this principle, and benchmark these results against those achieved by reading basic writing and logic advice book.
That said, if you are reading this book in order to get ideas to improve your consulting practice, as I was, this book can be insightful if you look into WHY this whole "pyramidal grouping" thing can be so popular and get such high ranking. My feeling is, with its broad promise, seemingly logical and useful advice, occasional usefulness, it's kind like anti-impotent pill for the paralyzing intellectual problem of how to think and write effectively. I surely wish I could have been the author of such a pill. Geez, the reason I wrote such a length, negative review can well because I'm jealous.
5.0 out of 5 stars Minto Pyramid Principle,
This review is from: The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving (Hardcover)I have organised a course given by Barbara for my direct reports at a major US computer company. The course reviews were all above 90%. From a selfish viewpoint, the major benefit was not having to plough through badly written memos, documents or presentations that failed to make any point clearly or concisely. From an organisational viewpoint, my staff learnt how to save huge amounts of time developing documents and presentations, which were also measurably more effective.
I have made this book a standard present to anyone I know who writes or makes presentations during the course of their lives. Minto'ised documents written by graduate and PhD students, lawyers, marketeers, sales-people, entrepreneurs, etc. are both shorter and much better at conveying their message. In the meanwhile, their authors save considerable time in getting to a final winning version.
Buy it, understand it and use it for future reference. The world belongs to people who can communicate their ideas effectively.
5.0 out of 5 stars A logical template for writing and thinking,
By A Customer
• Excellent. Buy and keep this book; your friends can get their own.
READ THIS BOOK TO LEARN HOW TO:
• Communicate quickly and clearly
• Ensure your thoughts and arguments are clear and complete
DON'T READ THIS BOOK TO LEARN HOW TO:
• Use graphics
• Make new age pyramid hats, prisms or Egyptian monuments
WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon UK was much cheaper than Amazon US. I dunno why.
I heard about this book from a friend who was handed a copy upon his matriculation to McKinsey and Company and held the work in great esteem. After reading the book, I had the opportunity to apply its concepts immediately in business school--the results were outstanding:
• I believe that my individual papers became trenchant and pithy.
But readers of the Pyramid Principle don't seek perfection in a book; they desire improvement in their abilities. The most important measure of this type of book is the improvement it causes in its audience's writing. On that I am sure that the Pyramid Principle is one of the best books of its kind. Read this book. Improve your writing, your speaking, and your thinking.
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting the message accross by making the thinking clear,
By A Customer
The book is mainly directed towards those who write about complex issues or prepare important decision papers (MBA's, lawyers, etc.). However, many, many people could improve their writing markedly by picking up on Minto's ideas.
The book itself is very focused. There are two main sections: a) how to focus on core issues and b) how to best organise your ideas for others to understand.
Even though the writing is clear and the examples are excellent it is not an easy book to master. You have read it, try it, read it, try it, etc. Still, you will see improvements from day one.
The sections are excellent in every aspect, but some readers may find they are still missing some bits and pieces on the side. I at least felt it was very useful to know how to combine the Pyramid Principle with other high-end writing methods. Like when Barbara Mint in one sentence (correctly) warns against bloating out with very controversial ideas at once - the reader either has to take her word for it - or know some basics about storytelling. On the other hand it helps keep the book short.
I teach communications to senior professionals and can confidently say, that the value added of improving your writing form is much higher than improving your writing style. This is what this book is all about. So, if you write a lot of reports, memo's, proposals etc. Minto may help improve your writing improve by leaps - even when you're good already!
5.0 out of 5 stars this book will make you a better writer and communicator,
It improved my writing tremendously. If you think about the ideas presented in the book, they make a lot of sense. They are all after one goal: make it easier for the reader to get your point. The reader will appreciate it!
I hadn't written any formal essays since highschool about 10 years. (I am an engineer so go figure!) When I was applying to B-schools a friend who works in consulting recommended this book when he saw me struggling with the essays. The book was not available at amazon. I contacted Barbara, the author, and she was kind to send me the book. She was also very responsive when I had questions on the subject material!
Although i struggled with the book because it uses some pretty technical examples from consulting, I was able to transform my essay writing style. And if I get into the B-schools I applied to (top 5), then I owe it to this book, because I believe my weakest point in the application process was writing the essays.
I like the part where she talks about the psychology of the reader and how the writer has a responsibility to make the writing as easy as possible for the reader. The parts I found especially useful in my case: arranging ideas in a pyramid, the idea of heirarchy (called induction), causation (deduction), and using titles and subtitles. Oh! and there is a chapter about how to write an effective introduction that I really liked.
I was frustrated reading some parts because I didn't understand the examples. But hey! the book is targeted for consultants. But I am certain a person who is not exposed to consulting can benefit from this book. After reading the book once and fast (because I gave myself only 2 days to get done with it and start writing my essays) I understood about a quarter of it well. But that was enough for what I wanted to do.
All in all, I feel that after reading this book I am now equipped with skills that make me a better and more confident writer.
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you serious about the quality of your communications?,
I "met" Barbara by email when a journalist referred to her work in passing and that he thought she had passed on and her book was no longer in print. I didn't think that was the case and I was interested in reading the book again so I looked her up and sent her an email. I mentioned the reference to her "passing" and pointed out the location of the remark. She replied, affirmed her lively disposition (!), and was kind enough to send me a copy of the book which I still have.
Barbara continues to update this book, her courses, and her online work. It is reference you should have and use.
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