Gerard and I were helping a large consulting firm to become distinctive in their market by enabling them to communicate their client recommendations clearly, logically and quickly.
This involved designing a training program to introduce structured thinking skills and a firm-wide change program that deeply embedded these skills in the way they all ‘did things’ every day over the longer term. Systems and structures to support people in their every day work were going to be critical.
We did the obvious things like creating videos and checklists as well as storing other resources on their intranet, but wanted to do more. In particular we wanted a tool that would take out some of the logistical effort of converting a storyline into a document while also reinforcing key structured thinking principles while people worked.
We found a some options, but did not like any of them:
- Mindmapping tools were too free form and did not remind people of the rationale underpinning the links between their ideas
- A logic mapping tool was clever but far too complex. Neither did it enable customised letterheads and packs, or create specific outputs like board papers, letters, chapter reports or one-page storylines
- Another in-house customised template tool was clever but did not enable people to move their ideas around as their thinking evolved, and it was not at all intuitive
This led us to a conundrum. We did not want to endorse any of these options but this client – and others – had been asking us “is there an app for that”? And our answer was an increasingly uncomfortable “no”.
Over the coming year we talked about this among ourselves, some colleagues and friends who ran IT businesses to mull over what options might be practical and decided to bite the bullet and build our own.
As a result, we now have neosi, our intuitive structured mind mapping tool that helps you remember the structured thinking principles while you map your ideas into a coherent argument and then creates customisable Word and PowerPoint documents for you.
We also realised that neosi on its own was not enough, we needed to build our own ‘intranet’, that was available to help anybody who was interested to learn about structured thinking, which is why we built Clarity College.
So, there you have it. That’s our story.