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New Post 11/15/2008 1:20 PM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Great BA fallacies 
Modified By Adrian M.  on 11/15/2008 5:18:44 PM)

Great BA fallacies #1

A fallacy is a component of a justification which is logically flawed and so makes the whole justification invalid.

This first fallacy I want to draw attention to is called "argument from authority" and is the argument that goes "it must be true because so-and-so said so". Because some one - or loads of people for that matter - or everyone - says something is true does not by itself make it true.

The use of this fallacy is staggeringly common - I've lost count of the JFDI requirements given to me because a Director of Something wants it and therefore it must be right. And then there is that Subject Matter Expert Who Knows Everything (or does he?)...even Einstien is often brought in to a discussion to try and prove a point.

ABC - ask, believe nothing and no-one, check: that's what a user told me this week. So beautifully put!

The bit that is relevant for this Great BA Fallacy is "believe no-one" - that doesn't mean everyone is a liar, it just means don't accept anything on face value, without checking and proving to your satisfaction that it is - actually - true.

The point is that it should not matter who's saying what, what matters is whether it is true. I mean, Einstien seemed to know his stuff about relativity but not (apparently) when it came to quantum mechanics: this illustrates no-one is infallible (well no-one I have ever heard of or met). In every day living this is not so  important but as a Business Analyst analysing change requirements it is vital that I can prove that every change requirement I define is actually required - so unless I understand the logical reasoning that justifies a change requirement I will not accept what someone says just because it is them saying it.

I apply that principle even when it is another Business Analyst telling me something. Or a BA guru...in fact especially a BA guru! Unless I can understand the chain of reasoning and can not fault it, I should not (rationally) agree with it.

ABC.

 

So what fallacies have you come accross?

 

 
New Post 11/15/2008 2:13 PM
User is offline KJ
243 posts
6th Level Poster


Re: Great BA fallacies 

fallacy #2

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

mmmh, put that one in your pipe and smoke it!

 
New Post 11/15/2008 2:49 PM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: Great BA fallacies 

 kmajoos wrote

fallacy #2

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

mmmh, put that one in your pipe and smoke it!

Nice one - though I think it is really a variation of fallacy #1 - just because the customer says something doesn't mean it is right...

 
New Post 11/21/2008 2:14 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Great BA fallacies #2 proof by verbosity 
Modified By Guy Beauchamp  on 11/21/2008 4:20:45 AM)

Great BA fallacies #2 - proof by verbosity

We've all been here: someone just talks and talks and uses more facts and figures than you can shake a stick at offering a wealth of supporting material (that you can't inspect during the 'discussion') - this is proof by verbosity otherwise known as "wearing down", "grinding in to submission" or "doorstep sales".

A favourite with politicians (of political parties or office politics). Also 'consultants' who wear red braces, draw lots of boxs with arrows on flip charts but don't actually write down anything that means anything. And lets not forget project sponsors!

Of course, we BAs would never use this technique in documenting our analysis or convincing others that our analysis is correct, would we???

What it relies on to succeed is the inability of the human brain to hold all the relevant facts in your head, correlate them and find the logical mistakes in the reasoning.

So, before considering how to survive this kind of onslaught, consider this: why did the person/people choose this method to 'prove' their position? One of 2 (or possibly both) reasons:
1. they have a scatter-gun mind and move off at random tangents anyway - that's what they are like
2. they are aware they have a weak case and are hoping to carry the day using voluminous distractions

So - how to survive? Firstly and most importantly, remain focused on what questions you need answered and do not get distracted by all the information on offer.

If you have the time, let them finish every last drop of the verbal diarrhoea. Then ignore it all and refocus the conversation on what you were debating anyway - example: "That's interesting, but before coming on to your points can we just resolve this question...".

If you don't have the time, cut in with some stalling tactic like "You have some excellent points there but we need to resolve this question now and we only have half an hour so lets pick your points up off-line".

Of course, this is unlikely to work with someone senior to you. In this case, I try to show them the consequences of what position they want to take without considering their verbosity at all: "Ok, so we are going to complete the analysis of this project in 3 days - now you told me the scope is nationwide, so lets see...I need to visit 16 regional offices and pull together all the different requirements in 3 days - is that right?"

And one final point: of course they may be right or at least have some good points! Just because they are using this tactic does not mean they are wrong. Get all the information you can from them, pick up on the referenced material, review and consider it. You never know...and don't forget ABC of Great BA Fallacy #1 (first post in this thread): so you do want to check it out if you can!

Does anyone have any other techniques for handling proof by verbosity?

Does anyone know of any other Great BA Fallacies?

 
New Post 11/21/2008 5:57 PM
User is offline David Wright
141 posts
www.iag.biz
7th Level Poster




Re: Great BA fallacies 

This one goes away if you stop treating other people/departments in your organization as 'customers'.  Real customers are outside the organization, the people or other orgaizations willing to part with real dollars/pounds/euros/yen/pesos for your product or service. BA's mostlly deal with Sponsors, other Stakeholders, and SMEs. Whether it is recognized or not, all these people are part of a group with a common goal, the success of the project. If any of these people does not see that and/or actively try to derail a project, they are not customers who are wrong, they are irresponsible members of the organization who need to change or be weeded out. The sad fact is that people like this often get away with this behaviour. Whenever I see it, I make plans for moving on.

 

 kmajoos wrote

fallacy #2

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

mmmh, put that one in your pipe and smoke it!


David Wright
 
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