The First Principle of Business Analysis

Trond FrantzenTrond Frantzen, Managing Partner & Chief Business Analyst | The PowerStart Group

PowerStart Precision ConsultingSeveral years ago, Gerald M. (Jerry) Weinberg coined what he called The Lump Law, which stated: “In order to understand anything, we shouldn’t try to understand everything all at once.” In other words, if we want to understand anything at all, we should learn about it in tiny, understandable chunks, and synthesize it chunk by chunk. It’s frustrating and self-defeating to try to understand everything all at once – to try to get the big picture right away – especially if the subject is complex or new. It only leads to information overload.

This same principle applies to all aspects of business analysis. That is, if we try to understand everything about the target business all at once (i.e., linking all the stuff that’s to be integrated in a business), we’ll suffer from serious brain sprain. And we certainly won’t get the full set of business requirements right the first time, because it will simply be too complex. This is usually what happens when we try to figure out the solution first and then try to extract the business requirements to fit that solution.

Accordingly, I have restructured Weinberg’s Lump Law into The First Principle of Analysis, because it is so fundamental to any type of business analysis:

“Partition the effort to minimize complexity.”

Here’s another way of thinking about this:

Break down the work required to produce the requirements of the business into small, non-redundant, manageable and understandable pieces.

When doing business analysis of any kind, you will need to apply this principle often. Partition the effort to minimize complexity.

Trond Frantzen photoTrond Frantzen is Managing Partner & Chief Business Analyst with the PowerStart Group. He specializes in rapid business requirements analysis, team development, and “bail-in” on challenged projects.. His best-selling book, “Requirements Analysis for Non-Technical Business Analysts: Business Requirements Elicitation” can be found on Amazon.

Trond Frantzen is a business analyst, strategist, consultant, and an author. He has worked with scores of clients across Canada and the U.S., including government and private organizations, to deliver mission-critical projects. He specializes in "challenged" projects.

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