I have always been into good writing (I really like Style: Ten Steps in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williamson) but was impressed by the Minto Pyramid Principle.

I have a question about a format that does not seem to be covered in this book. What about when you are trying to persuade someone to merely approve of something.

Lately, unfortunately, I've been writing a lot of letters to your health insurer because my wife's health has not been well. I've learned so much about how these companies work and how to get things done with them. But I'm having a hard time figuring out how to structure it with the Situation, Complication, Question, Answer format. For example, in requesting more physical therapy.

Situation: She's been having problems

Complication: ?

Question: Does she need more physical therapy

Answer: Yes

But where do I put all the reasons why?

I guess that's my issue. If you have lots of background complications, where do you put  it?

I'll admit, I am only in Chapter 8. I'll start Chapter 9 later tonight.


PaulChan's picture
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Minto addresses this in an example described as "seeking approval to spend money". In my version of the book it is under part 1 page 51. The pattern is;

Situation: we have a problem

Complication: we have a solution that will cost $xxx

Question: Should I approve it

Answer: we urge your approval of this request

The reasons why are listed in the pyramid. Minto's example pyramid is (not necessarily your pyramid):

1. we must act now

2. this action will solve the problem (OR this is the best of the available alternatives)

3. the financials look good

4. there are other goodies we get if we do this

Obviously the pyramid will need to present the benefits to the health insurer.


TNoxtort's picture

Thanks. It is on page 51 of my version of the book too. Thinking about it has helped me think about it better. Part of me wants to say, "we paid for it, just give it to us," but I realize there has to be compelling reason. The PT issue was actually resolved, but I might now have to request a non-part provider to be graded as in-network. Let me see how I can adapt it. I had another one come up last night - requesting the town to waive the construction permit fee for a wheelchair ramp.

I was listening to the podcast yesterday on conflict with internal support. They were talking about a way to approach support, asking for help, instead of demanding. This is often how I go about things. Now I want to try to blend that with Minto - asking for help, but being logical about it.

TNoxtort's picture

I think I am having a hard time because of something I read on page 66 - about whether you tell the action first, or give the reasoning how. For most of the things I deal with, I feel like I have to justify them first. So that leads to a very extensive situation and complication. Perhaps Chapter 9 will go into this more.

I think I'm getting some good practice with this, that should help a lot in the future.