Saturday, October 3, 2015

Soda cans set the standard approach for business analysis.

Analysis must be “right sized”. Too little analysis, and even too much, damages projects. Analysts must think about right sizing and work with all stakeholders to achieve this. And there is no better way to illustrate this than by using cans of soda. You can even use empty cans from the trash.
Suppose I tell you to make a tower from soda cans. You have three cans and the tower must be three cans high. Easy. Just stack them one above the other and you’re done. Not only easy, but there’s no need to think about it first.
Now supposing I tell you to build a tower from 300 soda cans. The tower must be at least 15 cans high. Not so easy. Do you approach this in the same way as the three soda can problem? Maybe. But if you do, chances are you won’t get it right first time. Avoiding wasted effort from failed build attempts will probably be of benefit. That is not to say that you won’t need to conduct a few simple experiments first (to learn about “safe building”). 300 cans requires more up front thought than three cans.
Finally, suppose I tell you to build a tower from 300,000 cans that must be at least 3,000 cans high. Not only that, but the tower must be adaptable to adding more cans in the future, and changing the overall shape of the tower. In this case some form of planned experimentation and research will be vital to success and avoiding lots of waste.
In each of these three cases we can launch in to building the tower. With three cans it’s not even worth thinking about it – the effort involved doesn’t warrant it. But for the other two options it progressively does. In fact, for 300,000 cans, and possibly even 300, there are other questions we should think about. Are soda cans the best thing to use to build towers? Is there anything better? What will the tower be used for? How long will it need to last? And so on.
This is where the analysis comes in. Analysis helps to ensure that we really need a tower, that the risk of the tower failing to meet needs is minimized, and that expectations about the purpose of the tower are clear and managed.
What is true for soda can towers is even more true for business change projects. Learn more about this from our coming analysis classes; follow needpowerechg on Twitter now!.