Concepts

There are only 5 building blocks you'll need to learn in order to succeed in Onebrief. They are 3 types of cards (action, outcome, and context) and 2 types of links (contributes to, and blocks).

Cards

Action card

Actions represent your options. As the name says, you can act on them. In Onebrief actions are identified by a turn sign and the orange color. In the real world you may refer to them as:

  • Initiatives
  • Bets
  • Epics

Outcome card

Outcomes represent consequences of actions. As such, you cannot directly act on them, but they are likely to result from actions. In Onebrief, outcomes are identified by a map pin and the purple color. In the real world, they represent one of the following:

  • Goals
  • Risks
  • Neutral outcomes

Context card

Context represents additional detail about your situation. Choosing them by elimination is the easiest way to get started. In other words, if you cannot directly act on it (actions) or expect it to result from an action (outcomes), then you are dealing with context. In Onebrief, context is identified by a traffic sign and the blue-gray color. What you may choose to model as context includes:

  • Facts
  • Conditions
  • Data points

Here is a simple example of how these 3 types of cards might be used together:

Actions, outcomes and context used together in an example

In plain English:

  1. To Set up a stand on Laurel St and 3rd contributes to our goal of having 500 people pass by my stand today.
  2. The fact that There's high traffic on Laurel St for the football game also contributes to that.
  3. In turn, if 500 people pass by my stand today, we expect to Sell 100 cups of lemonade, which is a high-priority goal.

Links

It might take some effort for you to get used to what links mean in Onebrief.

That is because you have to "unlearn" that arrows represent a static and certain type of relationship. That is true for the most common types of diagrams, but not in Onebrief's case, and for good reason.

In Onebrief, arrows represent cause-and-effect. Cause-and-effect is a type of probable relationship. In other words, they represent what might lead to something else, instead of what will lead to something else.

This is necessary for you to truly think strategically, and has important implications, such as:

  1. Revealing alternative paths
  2. Understanding trade-offs
  3. Explicitly addressing risks

In Onebrief, cause-and-effect links come in two flavors:

Contributes to link

Contributes to between A and B means that A might lead to, or increase the probability of B.

Blocks link

Blocks between A and B means that A might detract from, or decrease the probability of B.

Here is a simple example of how these types of links can be used:

Link types used together

In plain English:

  1. The fact that Austin requires a permit might lead to the City shuts down my lemonade stand.
  2. If the City shuts down my lemonade stand, then I might Pay a $200 fine.
  3. Most importantly, if the City shuts down my lemonade stand, that significantly reduces the probability that I will Sell 100 cups of lemonade, which is a high-priority goal.