NOTE: This is an “extra credit” post for the 10 Days to Winning @ Work free email course. It will make more sense if you have that context first prior to reading the post below. The course is available here:
Optimal categorization strives to be both Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive (MECE).
Mutually Exclusive means that every categorized item fits into one, and only one, category. You can test that by asking yourself:
- Does this category label have any potential to overlap with another?
- Does the content under each category fit neatly within just one?
Collectively Exhaustive means that every relevant item is present and fits into a category (without an “other” category) You can test that by asking yourself:
- Is there key piece that I’m missing?
- Can I dream of something relevant that wouldn’t fit here?
When you categorize matters in such a way, you unlock several key benefits. See some examples and benefits in the slides below from my training program:
What messes in your thought life might benefit from a little MECE categorization?