You’re going to the supermarket for nine groceries.
Strawberries, broccoli, butter, raspberries, kiwi, cucumber, milk, tomatoes and white bread.
But you’re not allowed to make a list.
Remembering nine groceries is a lot for your brain. So it’s useful to create groups. Categories, clusters, silos…
But how do you create logical groups? Not only for your groceries, but also for structure puzzles at work?
A tool that can help you is MECE: Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive.
For example, the groups ‘dairy’, ‘fruit’ and ‘green’ are not MECE. Because ‘fruit’ and ‘green’ are not mutually exclusive. Just ask the kiwi.
The groups ‘dairy’, ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetables’ are not MECE either. Since white bread doesn’t fit into any of these groups.
Then what is MECE?
For example, the groups ‘red’, ‘green’ and ‘white’. At least for this collection of groceries.
In your work you can use MECE to analyze data or arguments, to get a grip on complex matters or to make a chapter division.
That’s why consultants love it.