The Trivium is a system of critical thinking. To think clearly one needs communication, audience inputs and sound data.

What is The Trivium?

The wisest of ancient philosophers began their learning with the trivium. It was the foundation of academic learning. Today we are meant to learn our 3Rs (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic). Students in the middle ages and earlier began with “RLG”: rhetoric, logic and grammar. It is still a very valid system today, with a 21st century twist.


Rhetoric is the ability to use language effectively, in writing and in speech. Rhetoric is the ability to influence the thought and conduct of an audience. Quite appropriate for today’s business person! Being able to influence decision makers is a key skill for a successful business-person.

Rhetoric is the ability to influence the thought and conduct of an audience.


Logic contains the principles of reasoning. It is how we analyze data, consider arguments, and make decisions. For business analysts, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and knowledge workers of all sorts this is your bread and butter. Make better choices. Provide meaningful predictions. Define better processes. Careful thought in designing our systems gives us better output. After all, garbage in=garbage out.


Grammar – ahh, the runt of the language litter! I will admit that I was one of the people who liked diagramming sentences. (I know, I know,  but that’s why I’m good at what I do now!) Grammar is about knowing and using the preferred formats of language in speaking and writing. For us though it means something more. It’s about how we put together our content into useful tools for our audience. How we encourage data to transform again and again until it becomes wisdom.

I rather like Wikipedia’s opening definition of trivium:

The Trivium is a systematic method of critical thinking used to derive factual certainty from information perceived with the traditional five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. In the medieval university, the trivium was the lower division of the seven liberal arts, and comprised grammar,logic, and rhetoric (input, process, and output).

Be A Leader

Leaders communicate thoughtfully and with clarity. They consider their audience. They use sound data. This is what knowledge-based leadership is about, the “trivium.” I am always seeking to learn more, grow more, meet more people and each those who wish to learn. Tri-via, the place where three roads meet. Meet me on this journey!