Solutions for Exam: Groupings

Thanks for taking the time to complete the Exam on Groupings. Here are your solutions.

When would you choose to organise your ideas into a grouping?
You could use a grouping in any of these situations:

  • When 

Groupings must be of the same logical kind of items (reasons, actions, examples, etc).

True. Items or ideas that are grouped together must logically belong together.

Groupings must be MECE.
True. The ideas within a grouping should be MECE: Mutually Exclusive (i.e. separate) and Collectively Exhaustive (i.e. complete). MECE is a great test to apply to our thinking. Another name for this is NONG – No Overlaps, No Gaps.

When using a grouping, the “answer” is probably true not certainly true.
True. In inductive reasoning, if the premises are true then the implication we draw is probably true. The test for us is to marshal a strong enough case to convince.

What is the smallest number of items that you should have in a group?
You should have no less than two ideas within any level (or generation) of a grouping story, as one idea on its own does not form a group.

What is the largest number of items you should include in a group?
A grouping can in theory contain an infinite number of points. However we group like ideas together into manageable sets. You should try to have no more than five ideas in any one level (or generation) within a grouping story for two reasons: firstly, long lists of ideas make for poorer comprehension for your reader, and secondly, limiting yourself to creating short lists pushes you to think harder about the relationships between your ideas.

You can mix reasons and actions in the same support.
False. A grouping must be the same kind of thing – reasons and actions are different categories of idea.

The idea at the top of a grouping must either summarise or synthesise the ideas below
True. Any idea at the top of a group must truly represent that group, either by summarising their points or by adding further value to them by synthesising them.

Each idea within a storyline should provoke only one question in the reader's mind
True. This rule underpins the rigour of the grouping storylines.

What does MECE stand for?
MECE stands for Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive, and is the key test which we apply to grouping storylines. It means that the governing idea is the only idea that overarches the whole story, and that every other idea within the story must be related to that governing idea but not overlap the other ideas within the story. In simpler words, this means that there must be no overlaps and no gaps in the whole story (In Australia: this means that you are not a ‘nong' if you use the NONG test … For non-Aussies: a ‘nong' is someone who is a bit of a fool)

Which of the following statements is not correct?
The statement ‘A grouping is a group of ideas that lead you to think that another higher order idea is absolutely true' is not correct. A grouping leads you to think that another higher order idea is probably, but not absolutely, true.

What would be the advantage of using deductive arguments underneath your key line?
You …

Can you build a grouping with deductive structures coming off some of the points?
Sometimes this is appropriate.

Do you need to use the same structure underneath each point within a grouping?
Strictly no, but do when you can: it offers the reader a sense of predictability and comfort when you are able to create structural symmetry.

What are parallel ideas?
Both of these things: Parallel ideas are

  • Ideas that are the same kind of idea (eg all reasons, all actions)
  • Ideas that respond to the same question in the reader’s mind)

What is wrong with this grouping?

Governing idea: Like all firefighters, Maude must renew her first aid certificate annually

  • Maude’s first aid certificate expires next month
  • Maude should book in for the next first aid course
  • Maude needs to check that the next course does not clash with her upcoming shifts or planned vacations
  • Maude’s supervisor needs to sign off on her participation in the course

All of the above: The key line ideas are not parallel, each point in the key line does not have the same subject, the ideas in the key line are not all ‘the same kind of thing’ and the governing idea (also called the ‘answer’) does not overarch the whole story.

What is wrong with this grouping?

Governing idea: BigCo should learn to analyse big data

  • BigCo needs to mine big data to improve it's marketing effort
  • BigCo will blow past it's competitors if it can understand big data
  • Big data is really important to anybody who wants to market their products today
  • Understanding big data is hard

All of the above is correct:

  • T

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