A recommendation pyramid is a logical structure that links data to recommendations. Recommendation pyramids ensure that the data that is presented is relevant, and provide a structure that helps users of the data remember and understand the data. There are a number of different structures for recommendation pyramids.
As an example, the recommendation pyramid below starts at the top with a recommendation to raise the price of Becel to $3.99. This recommendation is backed up by three conclusions about how the market works. Each of these conclusions is backed up by additional data.
Recommendation trees ensure that the data is relevant
One of the great challenges of finding and communicating insight is working out which data is interesting: the best way to do this is to think of data as being interesting if it leads to a recommendation. The beauty of a recommendation pyramid is that it forces clarity about how the data all fit together and what it means.
Structure of a pyramid
Pyramids for organizing data, whether recommendations or otherwise, are structured as follows:
- Each of the higher blocks is linked to the levels immediately below it. It either summarizes this lower level or, is a logical conclusion that arises from the lower level.
- Ideas or facts in a grouping must be of the same type:
- Elements of an argument, or
- Similar types of observations
Ideas and facts in a grouping should be ordered if possible. For example:
- Process. E.g., the hierarchy of effects (aware, consider, ..., loyal)
- Importance (most to least)
- Buyer's journey
- Means-end chain. E.g., User story (UX)
- As a [insert segment/persona]
- I want to [what]
- So I can [why]
- What, why, how
- In the past > Then something happened > So now > In the future
There are a few ways of structuring the recommendations pyramid. One is to use the argument structure, where the facts are organized into three sections:
- Here's your problem
- Here's the cause
- Here's how to fix it
An alternative structure is the grouping structure:
The two diagrams from above, and much of the thinking in this article is from Bulletproof Problem Solving: The One Skill That Changes Everything Book by Charles R. Conn and Robert McLean (1989). A more difficult read with more detail is The Pyramid Principle: Logical Writing and Thinking, Third Edition, Barbara Minto.
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