January 11, 2008

Feedback Requested: Business, Government, and Military Problem-solving hierarchies

I am working on a book on the Extreme Presentation method of presentation design. In fact most of the writing is done. But there is a piece that I am still wrestling with. Part of the Extreme Presentation method involves understanding what problem your audience has that your presentation will focus on. For business audiences I use the Business Problem-solving Hierarchy to help identify the audience problem. You start at the top of the diagram, with the most general problem (which for business is basically inadequate returns: not making enough money on our investment) and then work your way down the tree until you find the specific problem that is most relevant to your audience. Is the problem with investment levels, or profit levels? If the latter, is this because sales are too low, or costs too high? And so on. Here’s the Business Problem-solving Hierarchy:


So far so good. But one of the reviewers of the book manuscript has suggested that it would be good to provide similar hierarchies for non-business situations, namely government or other not-for-profit, and military. So here, with the help of friends in the Pentagon and the Federal Government, are preliminary drafts of Government/Not-for-profit and Military Problem-solving Hierarchies. (Click on each image to see a larger version; pdfs are at the bottom of this post).

I am very interested in receiving feedback on these two. If you current work in Government, Not-for-profit, or the Military, let me know:

– Is this how you think about problem-solving?
– Are the structure and terminology right?
– What would you add, change, or delete?

You can reply by commenting on this post, or by emailing me directly: a.v.abela(at)gmail.com.

Thank you for your help.



And here are pdf versions of each:

Download Business.pdf

Download GovernmentNFP.pdf

Download Military.pdf


6 Responses to Feedback Requested: Business, Government, and Military Problem-solving hierarchies

  1. I perceive a fundamental problem with your military chart. The military is not threat driven; they are mission driven. Your tree structure should flow from whether the mission is clear or not (and whether mission orders/aufstragstactic applies – in management terms whether the directiveness structure is tight or very tight), whether it can be executed or not with the resources available, ….
    You may want to refer to some of the materials available at the various War College web sites and the Command and General Staff web sites. In particular look at the writings of COL (USA Ret) Art Lykke. Some of this is covered in Jim Dunnigan’s books. There are also books on military decision making but you have to be careful to make sure they are written by someone talking about how decisions are really made in the military (and this differs with service – see Carl Builder’s The Masks of War) and not someone espousing how they should be made mased on some civilian algorithm.
    This may be a difficult undertaking but it will be necessary if you do not want to alienate the military sector, one of the primary users of presentation charts, by demonstrating a fundamental misappreciation of what and how they are.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thank you SCP, this is very helpful. I am following up on the sources you cite.

  3. YW. While I do not always agree with what you have to say, I admire your initiative and effort. If I may assist feel free to contact me via email.

  4. shrikar kulkarni says:

    Veryuseful material to stimulate one’s thinking logically.
    Do keep me on your mailing list.
    Shrikar Kulkarni

  5. Andrew says:

    Will do – glad you are finding this useful!

  6. wench wear says:

    Great! That is a pretty detailed information. I love it. Thanks much for the good post!

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