Barbara Minto

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Barbara Minto
Alma materHarvard Business School (MBA)
Occupation(s)Author, consultant

Barbara Minto is an American author and consultant focused on the subject of executive communication.[1]


Minto's career began as a secretary at an American railway company in the 1950s "making 400 bucks a month".[2] Concerned that her supervisor's age and ill-health would result in the loss of her well-paying position, she applied to Harvard Business School, which at the time did not require an undergraduate degree, and was admitted upon passing the entry exam.[2]

Minto graduated from Harvard Business School in 1963.[3] She was one of only eight women to graduate in a class of 600.[4] Minto was the first female MBA hired by McKinsey & Company, starting with the firm in Cleveland, Ohio in 1963, and moving to London in 1966, where she served until 1973.[3]

After layoffs at McKinsey arising from the 1973 Oil Crisis, Minto began her own training business focused on the executive communication techniques she pioneered during her tenure.

Minto published her book, The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking, in 1985, and an upgraded edition entitled The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving in 1996.

She continues to conduct training sessions for small groups of participants globally, through her business Minto Books International, Inc.[5]


Minto is the originator of the MECE principle pronounced "Meece" (Barbara pronounces it with one syllable, meece, rhyming with "niece" or "Greece")[3] a grouping principle for separating a set of items into subsets that are mutually exclusive (ME) and collectively exhaustive (CE).[6]

MECE underlies her Minto Pyramid Principle,[3] which suggests that people's ideas should be communicated in a pyramid format in which summary points are derived from constituent and supporting sub-points:[7]

  • Grouping together low-level facts they see as similar
  • Drawing an insight from having seen the similarity
  • Forming a new grouping of related insights, etc.

Minto argues that one "can’t derive an idea from a grouping unless the ideas in the grouping are logically the same, and in logical order.”[3] The Minto Pyramid Principle is adopted in management consulting to assist in presenting complex information.[citation needed]



  • 1985: The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking
  • 1996: The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving


  1. ^ "About Barbara Minto". Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  2. ^ a b "The first female grads of Harvard Business School led the way for all of us - Telegraph". 2013-03-15. Archived from the original on 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e Minto, Barbara. "MECE: I invented it, so I get to say how to pronounce it". McKinsey Alumni Center. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  4. ^ "The first female grads of Harvard Business School led the way for all of us - News - Harvard Business School". Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  5. ^ "The Minto Pyramid Course". Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  6. ^ Spencer, Tom (January 30, 2013). "MECE Framework". Consulting Frameworks.
  7. ^ "The Minto Pyramid Principle: A powerful and compelling process for producing everyday business documents". Retrieved 2020-12-11.

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