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Weekly 3: Be more organized

Summary: Find your tribe. Structure your arguments like a pyramid. Embrace inequality in your to-do l

Idea Journal Weekly 3

August 12 · Issue #47 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Find your tribe. Structure your arguments like a pyramid. Embrace inequality in your to-do lists. (~5 min read)
Idea #2 is taken from a previous issue, and we’ve included it here because we think it fits well with the current issue’s theme: be more organized.

#1. Growth is not the only option for the tribe you lead.
Marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his book Tribes that a tribe is a group of people who have a shared interest, a way to communicate with one another, and a connection to the leader.
Godin argues that as a leader, you have 3 tactics you can use to increase your tribe’s effectiveness:
  1. Transform the shared interest into a clear goal and a desire for change.
  2. Provide tools to help tribe members to tighten their communications (e.g., leader to tribe, tribe to leader, tribe member to tribe member, and tribe member to outsider).
  3. Use the tribe’s size and influence to grow and gain new members.
As Godin points out, most leaders focus only on tactic #3 – but bigger is not always better.
For example, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has millions of members, but it arguably has much less impact on the world than the 2,000 people who attend the TED Conference each year: “One is about big and the other is about change.”
Every action you take as a leader can affect these 3 tactics, and the challenge is to figure out which one to maximize.
#2. Use the “Pyramid Principle” to make your arguments more effective.
Entrepreneur and former management consultant Ameet Ranadive suggests using the Pyramid Principle to better structure your arguments and be more persuasive.
Ranadive covers both the rationale behind the Pyramid Principle, as well as details on how to use the tool, in the following 3 steps.
Step 1: Start with the answer first. 
Many people are used to making their arguments by presenting facts and analyses, and then building up to a conclusion at the end. But Ranadive points out that this isn’t an effective approach when you’re dealing with busy executives, who don’t have a lot of time.
Instead, it’s better to start with the answer first, for the following reasons: 
  • It allows you maximize time with your audience: even if the meeting or discussion is cut short, you will have communicated your most important point.
  • Many executives think in a “top-down" manner about the “big picture” – beginning with your answer fits with their mental model.
  • You sound more assertive and confident, and are therefore more persuasive.
Step 2: Group and summarize your supporting arguments
Your audience is naturally going to begin doing this in their heads as they listen to or read your argument. You can make this process easier for them, and also ensure that your key points are communicated without getting buried in unnecessary details.
Step 3: Logically order your supporting ideas
You can use a few different categories here:
  • Time order — if there’s a sequence of events or steps that form a cause-and-effect relationship, you should present the ideas in chronological order.
  • Structure order — break a singular thought into its parts to make sure that you have covered all of the main supporting ideas.
  • Degree order — rank supporting ideas in order of importance, from most to least important.
Ranadive suggests using the below chart to help visualize your structured argument.
#3. The most important tasks on your to-do list are usually not the “fun ones.”
Entrepreneur and investor Barbara Corcoran, in an interview on the Foundr Magazine Podcast, recommends that you organize the tasks on your daily to-do list based on which ones have the greatest upside potential.
Corcoran’s own daily to-do list is organized into 3 categories (Calls, Follow-up, and Projects), each of which has subcategories labeled A, B, and C:
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • A
  • B
  • C
The key is to do the As first, so that you can maximize the impact of your efforts.
Corcoran identifies As by asking: What has the best likelihood of bringing the greatest amount of success?
Quote of the Week
“The computer scientist Christopher Langton observed decades ago that innovative systems have a tendency to gravitate toward the ‘edge of chaos’: the fertile zone between too much order and too much anarchy.”
- Author Steven Johnson in his book Where Good Ideas Come From
Idea Journal
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