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Top Down Thinking explained

Have something to say and do it as clearly as you can

Wouter Jan Nieuwstad

on 25 November 2011

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Transcript of Top Down Thinking explained

Top Down Thinking
By W.J.Nieuwstad
“Before you begin to write, carefully think through your purpose and the means to gain and hold the interest of the particular readers you address”
Sister Miriam Joseph C.S.C., Ph.D. (The Trivium 1937)
Top Down Thinking is relevant to everyone who wants to communicate more effectively
If you rigorously apply the rules of TDT to your communications over an extended period of time, you’ll get:

A permanently different way of thinking

Better insights

An ability to formulate the right conclusions, deciding the point that you want to make and getting the structure right before you start to write/speak

The skill to communicate insights in a way that involves the reader or listener and encourages them to agree with your conclusions because of your impeccable logic

A lowered tendency to fall into ambiguity or misunderstanding when you communicate
Do you ever get emails that read like this. . . .
. . .when this is so much more effective
Which benefits do i get from TDT ?
Complication: Its not only about writing
What will you remember ?
And when you structure it like this ?
Group experiment
Group ideas logically before presenting them to an audience
Summarise ideas into groups
Aim for no more than five ideas in any group
(Based on the research of George A Miller, who suggested the upper limit of short term memory is 7 plus or minus 2.)
Arrange the groups into a logical tiered structure
How can i learn and use this method in the most efficient way ?
Make use of rules
Ideas at any one level must clearly be summaries of the ideas grouped below, not different ideas

Never show a list without first showing the summarising ideas

Groups of ideas must be presented in an understandably logical sequence

The main summarising idea of the whole communication is called the ‘Governing Thought’, the list in the tier below is called the ‘key line’

Summarising ideas lead to hierarchies of presentation: the Governing Thought becomes the title of the document or presentation and the key line becomes the chapter headings, etc.
Understand how to navigate through levels of abstraction
The disciplines of TDT actually teach the user to think better and more clearly, in a different way:

They learn to rise up from the detail to identify the summarising idea

They learn when to drop back down and give detail to support the key ideas

They learn how to flex between the levels
big picture helicopter view v detailed v holistic grasp of totality
Recognizable ?
Determining the SCQA: This is the basis for all your communication
Example SCQA:
Situation, Every major industry was once a growth industry
Complication, Many industries have stopped growing
Question, Why?
Anwsers, Growth has stopped because of failure of management
Wouter Jan Nieuwstad
Full transcript