Case studies

'How do we win the prize?'
Building a cogent, evidence-based case:
Argument Mapping for Hire with one of Australia's Major Banks


'When do I stop gathering information and how can I get buy-in?' 
Managing research for report writing:
A Training Course for an Auditing Organisation


'What's going on here?'
Interpreting information to assess risk:
A Consulting Project with a Government Client


Argument Mapping for Hire Case Study


'How do we win the prize?' Building a cogent, evidence-based case 

The Client's Brief

In a fiercely competitive market, Australia's major banks want to win a prominent international award for their initiatives.  Our client wanted a new approach to getting their point across; they engaged Austhink to help build a compelling, evidence-based case for a higher score. 

Our Solution
  • Austhink researched the client's past approach and the international rating process to identify priorities for a) a face-to-face presentation in Europe to a leader in the international rating organisation, and b) the detailed survey response.


  • A workshop for subject matter experts from across the bank introduced the key principles of argument mapping, to support a move away from technically detailed presentations and towards more strategically organised arguments.


  • Austhink then mapped side-by-side with the subject matter experts, coaching them in refining the logical structure and the flow of evidence for each case.


  • The co-ordinator and Austhink then worked closely on structuring the documentary support for the presentation in Europe, and for the subsequent survey response, with powerful, well-supported claims and potential objections rebutted in advance.


The European leader congratulated the team on a cogent and succinct argument for leadership, and announced that her thinking had changed as a result of the presentation.


New!  The results are in and it's a victory:  Our client won the award!


To read more about Argument Mapping for Hire, click here or to arrange a free presentation and demonstration, contact Jane Lewis on +61 3 9348 1013 or

Training Course Case Study  


'When do I have enough information and how can I get buy-in?' 
Managing research for report writing

The Client's Brief

Our client was an auditing body, producing dozens of reports each year on the performance of a wide range of agencies, organisations, programmes and initiatives.  Their reports must not only be produced within budget and deadlines:  in return for the auditees' full cooperation, the auditors' final reports must be "cleared" by those being audited.  This means that the auditors' conclusions and recommendations must be officially approved and agreed to by the representatives of the organisation, agency, programme or initiative being inspected before the audit can be finalised.  The auditors could afford neither to waste time on unnecessary research, nor to have their reports stagnate at the "clearing" stage if the auditees rejected the final draft.

In this context, auditors constantly confronted two questions:

1."How do I know when to stop gathering evidence, i.e. when I have enough information to make my case?"  and
2."How can I ensure that my report's conclusions and recommendations
are accepted and approved?"

Our Solution

We developed an eight-hour training workshop that focused on what it takes to make a well-supported case.  We used argument mapping to illustrate how auditors could tell when their case rested soundly on uncontentious information, so participants understood what they should be aiming for in principle, and how they could present their case in order to get buy-in from the auditee.  We ensured that the new technique fitted in seamlessly with the organisation's existing research methodologies, so participants could see how using this technique could fit into their work cycle.  The workshop was piloted successfully, and several hundred people were subsequently trained over a period of two to three years.

By the end of the workshop participants understood how to judge what
information was necessary and how much was enough.  They also saw how to communicate the logic of their case so that the auditee would accept their conclusions and recommendations, and they could anticipate and rebut possible objections.  Some participants also took away a technique they found useful for organising and assessing large amounts of information; for others, just gaining crucial insight into a core process was enough.  As one such participant put it, "I can't see myself ever actually mapping a case; but having done this workshop, I now understand what I do in a new way. It's been very useful".

The workshop also delivered an additional bonus: many participants reported that using the technique with their teams enabled them to see where different team members' thinking was not aligned.  Consequently they reached a much clearer and more consensual view of their findings and of their significance - which made coordinating research and co-authoring reports much easier and more seamless.

To read more about our Training Courses, click here or contact Jane Lewis on +61 3 9348 1013 or

Consulting Project Case Study


'What's going on here?' Interpreting information to assess risk

The Client's Brief

How do you assess the risk associated with something if you don't know very much about it - and can't find out? If you receive hundreds of "tips offs" but you know most of them are false alarms yet can't afford to get it wrong, how do you sort which leads are worth investigating further - and which aren't?

This was the challenge confronting our client.

Our Solution

First, working with our client, we analysed the risk assessment process into its components and identified where enhancements could be made. We then embarked on two simultaneous avenues of investigation:

1) We conducted in-house field research with the client's assessors to identify what made good assessors good.  How did the experts' thinking process differ from that of novices?  We observed experts and novices tackling some cases and discussed their methods with them, particularly focusing on the useful strategies expert assessors used.

2) We surveyed the relevant research literature.  Because of our backgrounds in cognitive science, we were able to draw on the research literature and combine it with the client's practical expertise to devise a simple but powerful technique to facilitate the process of generating hypotheses.

The technique now enables the assessors to consider a richer, wider range of possible explanations of what the information might mean, which:

  • makes assessing the risk associated with each possible scenario more manageable,
  • makes assessors better able to sort leads reliably, and
  • makes the unit less likely to waste time and resources on dead ends.


To read more about our Consulting Projects, click here or contact Paul Monk on +61 3 8317 1002 extension 103 or