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The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving Expanded Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0960191031
ISBN-10: 0960191038
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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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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 (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #824,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer 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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
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 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.
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