It is early days for our book – we only launched it on 20 August – but here are some comments from early readers …
Here’s a long one that we would have loved to have written ourselves … it’s not just the sentiment that we are excited about, it’s the structure of the review.
By way of background, I have long history in the consulting space and believe that effective communications separates leaders from the pack. And it’s something that one can continually work on to improve. Over the years I’ve read a number of books on communications such as books on writing, storyboards, logic, presentation construction, visual design, and verbal delivery. I’ve recently read “The So What Strategy,” a book on business communications, and wanted to share my thoughts on the book.
So what do I think about “The So What Strategy” by Davina Stanley and Gerard Castles (formerly communications specialists at McKinsey & Company)? “The So What Strategy” is an excellent book and provides readers with essential tools for more effective business communications related to writing, storyboards, logic, and presentation construction. Here are three reasons why it will be one of the top books for me to recommend to other consultants and business professionals:
First, the book establishes a solid foundation from a structural point of view. The authors cover fundamentals from understanding one’s audience, the drivers for particular communications (e.g., context, triggers, and key question), bottom line messaging, and logical storyboards for key patterns that come up in business situations. The book also goes further to suggest concrete steps as to how one might incorporate storyboarding and other elements into both one’s own work and the internal processes of an organization.
Second, the book is differentiated from other books, especially as it relates to addressing classic patterns one encounters in business. One classic book in consulting relative to communications is “The Pyramid Principle” by Barbara Minto (also ex-McKinsey). While Minto does a great job at explaining logical concepts that are pervasive in management consulting approaches such as mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive (MECE) frameworks and tying these concepts to writing, Stanley and Castles dovetail with the same concepts and also cover seven classical storyline patterns that are suitable for business. These storyline patterns includes things such as communicating actions plans, suggesting recommendations, pitching ideas, providing updates, and several others.
Finally, “The So What Strategy” comes in a modern package. While I feel the other two points I mention above are strengths, book’s package is one is the biggest selling points for me. First, for the time-pressed professional, the book is a very rich but quick read. I got through the book in about two hours, which is surprising given how rich the book is in terms of content and substance. And yet the book can easily fit into the messenger bag of a road warrior consultant. Second, the book has concrete examples of emails, storyboards, and presentations; this helps readers actually see where communications can be improved and how following the authors’ frameworks can help. Third, the book provides concrete tools (such as checklists) and is well-structured for being a quick handbook.
I highly recommend “The So What Strategy”. Davina Stanley and Gerard Castles have done a remarkable job putting this book together.
– Steve Shu, Management Consultant, Los Angeles, California (http://steveshu.com)
This book is a wonderful guide for anyone who wants to master top-down, message driven communication, including an elevator pitch. The tools and approach it presents supports you in thinking through your message — what do you want to say — and determining how to communicate it in a way that grabs and keeps an audience’s attention. The book includes helpful examples that illustrate options for shaping storylines.
The book practices what it preaches. It is focused on a few key areas — communicating the “So what?” and it provides enough explanation and example for you to master it, but not so much that you have to wade through repetitive pages.
– Teresa Woodland, leadership expert and communication coach, Pittsburgh USA
When I build a new team, these foundations of clear thinking and powerful communication are always among the first practices I introduce. The ideas are seductively simple in concept, but wickedly potent in application. They make anyone in business more effective, regardless of profession or seniority.
Stanley and Castles nail it. This is simply the single best guide to the fundamentals of clarity and persuasion in any type of business communication.
– Houston Spencer, former head of corporate communications for Rio Tinto, London UK
I wanted to personally email you to let you know that in my 25+ years of education around the critical topic of mastering successful pitches and presentations, the strategies in your book have already helped me to completely change my approach to a board presentation tomorrow evening and will no doubt do the same for LCW.
– Jeromine Alpe, CEO Let’s Connect Women, Sydney Australia
This could be the best investment that you make this year to improve yourself: My former McKinsey colleagues Davina Stanley and Gerard Castles have just published a guide to helping people get traction behind their ideas. It’s about ensuring that you’ve been understood so that you can engage people to get things done. Highly recommended.
– Robert Lakin, Co-founder, Analytika Research, Tel Aviv
I read your book Davina and enjoyed it – good insights and practical applications. It is short enough to have a quick read through the main points and message, and then go back later to focus in on the application.
I do a lot of presentations that I have always thought of as Why? [we invest the way we do] (which focusses on human behaviour) and How [we are Investing now] (portfolio/market update). In the context of storylining I think these could be tightened into The Pitch (which is really why use my firm) and Update (what’s going on in the portfolio). The exercise of really thinking about this can only be beneficial so I will try an overhaul for next big event and see how it goes.
I especially liked your idea of putting oneself in the audience’s shoes (I give myself a lot better than industry peers on this, but still not there) and secondly trying to really make the So What? very clear -> I did a 15min pitch yesterday to a live broadcast (without drawing breath it felt!) and the very first question suggested a miscommunication on my part!
– Douglas Isles, Financial Services, Sydney Australia
If the ‘Pitch’ excerpt is anything to go by, your new book will be fantastic – thanks so much for sharing! This will be one of the ‘must read’ books of 2017 – can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Well done Davina and Gerard!
– Anthony Wilson, Independent Risk Consultant, previously Head of Compliance at Woolworths Australia
Love your material guys! Congrats on the book launch, just ordered my copy – looking forward to reading and learning.
– Adrian James, Engagement Manager, Partners in Performance, Sydney Australia
Davina Stanley helps anyone distill complex concepts into punchy prose. I have seen first hand how Davina’s approach can sharpen great ideas to provide commercial cut through. Definitely worth a read!
– David Langford, Managing Director and Chief Investment Analyst at Longlake Financial, Sydney Australia