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How to develop good "logic" and think "structurally" in daily life?

logical thinking
New answer on Jun 11, 2020
10 Answers
2.5 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jun 09, 2020

It seems to me that consultants need to possess outstanding logic - thinking in a structured way with solid reasoning and arguments. As a person coming from art/business background, I feel that some of my friends working as researchers, fund managers possess very strong logic. Compared to them (who seems to me as a research type person who thinks straightly), I'm the kind of person who possesses lateral thinking and is more creative and sociable.

However, on top of my personality, I would like to seek some ways to improve my logic and structured thinking skills. Is this something that could be trained or improved? Or, the only way is to learn from job? Thanks for suggestions.

(edited)

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Apart from the inputs already given, I recommend familiarizing yourself with the most important business frameworks and structures.

Once you are familiar with them, try to apply those frameworks in every possible situation when coming across (high quality) business news. Over time, it will become a natural habit - but there is no real short-cut for that since this learning process just takes time, so it's excellent that you already start thinking about this subject right now!

This approach will also support you in parallel for your case interview prep, and might be more targeted for the consulting world. A while ago I also wrote a distinct ebook on the most important business frameworks and concepts, which are relevant for case interviews. Not only that, it also includes a practical step-by-step guide on how to apply those frameworks in real life situations - which is actually the differentiator between knowing them theoretically vs. knowing how to use them practically. (You can find the ebook here: http://cif.consulting-case-interviews.com)

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Anonymous A on Jun 09, 2020

Thanks for your sharing! Could you also share how to "apply frameworks on business news"? Do you mean using the news as a topic, and analyze by specific frameworks, such as porter 5 forces, etc?

Robert on Jun 09, 2020

Yes, exactly! Just look out for strategic or operational news topics, and think about with which framework you can analyze it, considering the business frameworks like a toolbox to use!

Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hi there,

Unpopular opinion alert :)

In case you are already working as a consultant, don't worry about this skill - it will naturally develop as you will be interacting the whole day with other consultants.

Trust me, 3 months into the job and you will start asking for tips on how to stop thinking so logically all the time and how to preserve your inner creativity :)

Ask a consultant to paint a picture and he/she will draw it as a slide :) so enjoy your creativity, it's more value-adding than having "structure" in every aspect of your daily life.

That being said, I recommend the 7 habits of highly effective people - it helps you put a more purposeful structure to your character (without sacrificing the "outer originality").

Best

Khaled

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

A few suggestions :)

1) Read daily - specifically, read The Economist, and BCG Insights + McKinsey insights. Note how they structure arguments and take you through a story

2) Practice bucketing things - If you're at a restaurant and picking something to eat, think about how one might decide. Think about the different ways the food could be categorized to make a decision (i.e. big vs small, expensive vs cheap, healthy vs indulgent, etc.). Actively practice this!

3) Pause and signpost when speaking - When you're talking to someone about a complicated topic or decision, think about the 3 things they need to know or the 3 things you're going to tell them. Flag these three things upfront (i.e. I decided to buy this jacket for three reasons...price, quality, and stlye), then dive into each (in terms of price, it was within my budget, I knew I needed a baseline quality i.e. lasting 5 years, which it met, and boy it looked good on me)

Do this, actively and consciously, and you'll get there!

Also, genuinely, reach out to me. I specialize in mindset shifts. We would only need 1-2 hours :)

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Anonymous A on Jun 10, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! Could you clarify what is mindset shifts? Sounds interesting!

Ian on Jun 12, 2020

Of course! I generally see that candidates struggle across a few key areas (each person struggles differently).

Ian on Jun 12, 2020

It could be 1) Structured thinking, 2) Concise communication 3) Putting yourself in the company's shoes (picturing yourself really being there) 4) Putting yourself in the consultants shoes (picturing being with a team, on day 1 of the case, in front of a whiteboard, figuring out what to do next), 5) Having confidence 6) Being adaptable/flexible and being able to think on your toes, no matter what comes your way

Ian on Jun 12, 2020

and more! Feel free to shoot me a message. I'm happy to help 1) Diagnose what may be blocking you and 2) Run specific exercises/interventions to unblock you :)

Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hi there,

While on the job training would probably be the most effective, logical and structured thinking can be practiced outside the job, at your own personal time. In fact you need to build that to a certain level to pass the interview, in order to get the on the job training.

You can do at least 2 things:

  • Proper study - E.g. use GMAT materials on logical reasoning to practice
  • Personal life - there are unlimited practice opportunities to practice structured thinking. e.g. ask yourself why you should have A for lunch instead of B, and give 3 supporting reasons. why you think the government should change certain practice, and give your 3 reasons backing your view...And if you need data to back up your reasoning, how would you get the data...

Best,

Emily

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To add on top what´s been said:

There is a lot of literature you can read that will help you much more than the ideas we can share in a post. I would suggest "The pyramid thinking" of "The 7 habits of highly efficent people".

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Anonymous replied on Jun 10, 2020

Dear A,

The shortest and the most efficient advice in this case is to:

1. Read the "The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking" by Barbara Minto. This is the best knowledge given in this area

2. Practice, applying this structure to every information in your life.

Wish you best of luck,

If you need any further help or advice, feel free to reach.

André

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3
Anonymous replied on Jun 11, 2020

Hi,

There are 5 cognitive abilities that are critical for a career in consulting:

  • Critical thinking: the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment
  • Decision making: the ability to select the best course of action among several options
  • Self-awareness: the ability to self-assess
  • Situational awareness: the ability to be fully aware of your surroundings at all times, allowing you to react effectively
  • Systematic thinking: the ability to understand different parts of a system and how they work together through cause/ effect relationships

How to cultivate these skills?
Let’s break down each skillset and find ways to improve.

Critical thinking could be broken down into the following subskills:

  • Think about a topic in an objective and critical way
  • Identify the connections between ideas and working out whether the evidence provided supports those ideas or not
  • Evaluate a point of view to determine how strong or valid it is
  • Recognize any weaknesses that are in the evidence or argument
  • Notice what implications might be behind a statement
  • Provide structured reasoning and support for an argument that we wish to make

In order to improve your critical thinking I would suggest using mind mapping technique. It exploits the fact that our brains process information visually much more effectively than they do when it’s presented in a written document.

The idea behind mind mapping is that you start with a central theme or idea, typically drawn in a box in the middle of the page, and then from that you create branches, which can lead to other ideas, or to supporting evidence or ancillary information.
Decision making could be broken down into the following subskills:

  • Establishing a positive decision-making environment
  • Generating potential solutions
  • Evaluating the solutions
  • Deciding
  • Checking the decision

In order to improve your decision making skills I would suggest that you should start applying it to your everyday life situations and start developing small decision making frameworks for each situation (e.g. going to the shop).
Self-awareness could be broken down into the following subskills:

  • Monitor Your Performance
  • Seek Out Feedback and Then Use It

The best way to improve your self-awareness is to reduce your EGO barrier and blind spots. You can read Ray Dalio Principles for more details.

Situational awareness could be broken down into the following subskills:

  • Identifying the baseline for the situation you are in
  • Recognizing any variations to the baseline.

In order to improve your situational awareness I suggest that you should take typical life situation and:

  • Monitor the Baseline. At first, this will require concentration effort. But after a while, you will find that you can monitor the baseline subconsciously
  • Fight Normalcy Bias. This requires you to be paranoid for a while as you develop your skill

Look at every disturbance to the baseline - this will allow you to stop ignoring or discounting any factors.
Systematic thinking could be broken down into the following subskills:

  • Identifying all the elements in the system
  • Understanding the correlations between the elements

This skill could be largely improved by solving business cases.

Best,

Anton

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Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hello,

On top of one has already been said, I think that training on case studies is a very good way to start thinking as a consultant. Consultants like to framework issues, and communicate in a very structured way.

Best

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Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, a great help to better structure communication and problem solving is the Minho's book Pyramid Principle, where you can find the most important principle of the consultants way of approaching any problem.

Hope it helps,
Antonello

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Vlad
Expert
replied on Jun 10, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Please read more about First Principles logic. It really helps

Best

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Anonymous B replied on Jun 10, 2020

Doing market sizing practice will allow you to be more comfortable with uncertainty and more structured when breaking down problems.

Recommend checking out Case Dojo (https://casedojo.carrd.co/) for market sizing problems and sample market sizing responses. They send out a market sizing question twice a week — it might be helpful to get yourself into the routine of attempting these problems.

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Robert

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