Barbara Minto

Updated at: May 21, 2007, 1:55 a.m.

Barbara Minto is an independent consultant specializing in teaching techniques of logical analysis and problem solving to consulting firms and corporations. Author of the The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving, she is considered the foremost authority on the organization of ideas to ensure their clarity in written documents. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she began her career on the staff of Cyrus Eaton, the industrialist who founded the famous Pugwash Conferences of nuclear scientists. Working as part of the team that organized and ran the conferences, she received sound training in tackling the problems of communicating clearly on technical subjects.

She left Mr. Eaton to attend the Harvard Business School, in the second class to admit women. Returning to Cleveland, she joined McKinsey & Company, the international management consulting firm, as their first female consultant. Her ability to write was noted, and she was transferred to London in 1966, to concentrate on developing the writing skills of the firm's growing European staff.

All reports at that time were written in English, and it was thought that consultants not writing in their first language would experience special difficulties.

However, it became apparent to her very quickly that the writing difficulties in Düsseldorf and Paris were the same as those in New York and Cleveland. The problem was not so much to get the language right as to get the thinking clear. This insight led her to concentrate on discovering the structures of thinking that underlie clear writing, and eventually to develop the ideas that made her famous.

Barbara still lives in London, but has since 1973 run her own firm, Minto International, Inc. She specializes in teaching the Minto Pyramid Principle to people whose major training is in business or the professions, but whose jobs nevertheless require them to produce complex reports, analyses, memorandums, or presentations.

She has taught her course to most of the major consulting firms in the United States and Europe, as well as to many of the country's largest corporations. She has also lectured at the Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, and London business schools, and at the State University of New York. She travels worldwide in response to demand for her course.

Related Books

The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking 3rd Ed.