The M way


• Fact-based

Hiding from the facts is a prescription for failure—eventually, truth will out. You must not fear the facts. Hunt for them, use them, but don’t fear them.

• Rigidly structured

To structure your thinking, you must be complete while avoiding confusion and overlap.

MECE (pronounced “me-see”) stands for “mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive”

If you can’t figure out where to put those two or three brilliant ideas, there is always Other Issues. There is a caveat, however. Avoid using Other Issues in your top-line list—it looks out of place.

• Hypothesis-driven

Define IH

Initial Hypothesis (IH) is a road map, albeit hastily sketched, to take you from problem to solution. If your IH is correct, then solving the problem means filling in the details of the map through factual analysis.

If your IH is correct, then, a few months down the road, it will be the first slide in your presentation. If it turns out to be wrong, then, by proving it wrong, you will have enough information to move toward the right answer

Generate IH

To structure your IH begin by breaking the problem into its components—the key drivers. Next, make an actionable recommendation regarding each driver. For your next step, you must take each top-line recommendation and break it down to the level of issues. For each issue, what analyses would you need to make to prove or disprove your

The end product of this exercise is the issue tree. In other words, you start with your initial hypothesis and branch out at each issue. The result looks like the figure below.


Test IH

Most of us are poor critics of our own thinking. We need others to pick apart our ideas. A team of three or four bright individuals is an excellent vehicle for that.

If you are the team leader, you should try to be the thought leader too. Try to take a
different approach from whatever has just been said. Ask, “What if we change this? What if we push that? How about looking at it this way?”