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The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving Hardcover – May, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0960191031 ISBN-10: 0960191038 Edition: Expanded
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Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Minto Intl; Expanded edition (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0960191038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0960191031
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 102 people found the following review helpful By "mbowman2" on September 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Pyramid Principle aims to introduce the reader to a better way of communication. Is it successful. Here's the answer....
Based on the premise of a 'pyramid structure' to organise thoughts the basic format introduced is:
Situation - what's the situation; Complication - what makes the situation less than the ideal and Answer - how we're going to fix it (and supporting evidence continuing down the pyramid structure.)
If you feel a natural affinity with the above then it's probably because we all naturally tend to work through a linear cause-effect-response framework.
The remainder of the book develops the above framework - including some rather poor choices for examples (GK Chesterton and pigs????). as the audience for this is likely to be more the business professional or college student the lack of research into more solid examples is frustrating and a poor effort from the editorial team behind the book.
Will this book make your ideas 'jump off the page and into the reader's mind' as the author suggests? That depends on how logical your flow of thought already is. If you examine the proposed structure and look for it in literature, songs, advertsing, etc - you'll find the Minto model pretty much a standard format of our communication already.
There would be no hesitation in recommending this book if you can find it at a reasonable price. I rummaged around a second hand bookstore and picked mine up for $12. 4 out of 5 based on that price.
At a local price of $100 it's a book of greater tragedy than Hamlet. You just cannot find that kind of value in a book that's better summarised in several pages and well constructed examples than what's in this publication. Given that I read the third edition and the section on presenting your report still seems to suggest typographics better suited to the '70s is shameful.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Ben McLemore on April 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have been blown away by the effect this book has had not only on my writing and presentation development, but the structure of my thinking. Minto's insistence on specific, definite patterns of logical analysis, while taking some effort to grasp, leads to analysis that is deeper, more penetrating and more complete than typical fuzzyheaded thinking & writing.
Example: Where before I might have thought I was finished with a logical argument, Minto gives me tools for realizing that not only is my argument incomplete, but showing which direction to go to fill it in, and how to analyze it to see if it is really a proper logical framework.
There are lot of examples to work through, and they deserve your repeat attention. I am keeping the book handy until I fully grok the whole thing; I continue to take a look at specific chapters and examples as I am writing, performing analyses and developing diagnostic frameworks (I am an Internet strategy consultant for a large Internet consulting firm).
Although Ernst & Young and McKinsey use this book extensively, and I noticed it is one of the top reads in the Booz-Allen purchase circle, I think it has far wider applicability than for consultants. Anyone who has to think, present or write clearly about a domain of knowledge will benefit enormously from an understanding of the principals elucidated by Minto.
Finally, for those who are Greg Bear fans, I feel I am finally getting a glimpse of what 'talsit' might mean (hint: Read the Eon series to see what I mean. It's a great series, and he's a great writer.)
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210 of 248 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've been in management consulting for four years have have met several consultants who swear by this book. Many firms purchase this book for their new consultants and incorporate it in their training.
Unfortunately, I have not met a single consultant who has been able to accurately describe or apply the concepts in the book! Most consultants who swear by the Minto Principle are actually not applying it, but rather applying a simplified (mis)-interpretation of the Principle. Also, even professional communication experts that my consulting firm employed could not apply the Principle in their training program in a consistent and logical fashion.
I agree with the reader from Hong Kong. The Minto Principle is extremely hard to learn, which I think lessens its value to the average reader. This is not to say that it does not work. However, I think you would be better off simply using the principles of good writing you should have learned in school. (Contrary to what some consulting partners want to believe, there is nothing intrinsically special about business writing that requires new skills.)
The book has gotten a lot of mileage out of the McKinsey mystique (it must be good because it was written by a former McKinsey consultant and is used by McKinsey). Many consultants expound the Minto Principle to make themselves seem superior (i.e. they are using a McKinsey concept). Save your money. The book is not worth anywhere near its $95 price. At best, it's a $11.95 paperback.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Minto has written a very solid reference with a clear focus on how to present your ideas in a way, which will allow others to follow your thinking.
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!
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