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New Post 9/18/2008 3:54 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
5th Level Poster

A theory of why humans don't like to analyse 

Why humans don't like to analyse

Humans have evolved because they survived. They survived by exploiting their key advantage over competitors: the ability to use rationality to solve problems (such as how do I get away from the sabre tooth tiger?).

This rationality is expensive in terms of time and effort. It takes time and mental effort to reason: "I have observed and have also been told that sabre tooth tigers eat people so really I should ensure that I am not at risk of being attacked by one".

Far more efficient to just react with fear at the sight of the tiger and run away, making rational choices about which way to run perhaps.

So that fear came from somewhere. Sure: it came from the abstraction of the rational knowledge about sabre tooth tigers. The abstraction (i.e. the emotion of fear) is far less expensive to process than rationality. It is quicker and easier.

The problem is this: the abstraction does not admit new knowledge. If the sabre tooth tiger said "Hi, did you know I am now a vegetarian?" we would already be too far away to hear it and we would have no evidence that our fear reaction strategy had not worked yet again.

So people trust their emotions (abstracted rationality) as as they think they are quick, easy and reliable.

Now the nasty bit for us business analysts: we come along and try to get people to formalise their rationality in to analysis of their requirements. Perversely, they have already abstracted the knowledge that this analysis business is expensive and hard in to the emotion "dislike". What they do like are emotional reactions (quick and easy). So they don't like doing analysis and they worked out why rationally and that reasoning has been dropped as now they only need to know they don't like it.

Rationally they will agree (if they hang around long enough to discuss it with us) that analysis is necessary but that doesn't mean they have to like it and (usually) they don't.

Well, that's my theory and it took hours to come up with :-) but what do you think?


New Post 9/18/2008 6:10 AM
User is offline Craig Brown
560 posts
4th Level Poster

Re: A theory of why humans don't like to analyse 

I  like it.  Maybe you overstate the case of fearining analysis a little.  But maybe not.

I find it more and more important to address the emotional rather than the logical.  I feel it is a maturing of my consulting skills.

And consulting skills give you the permission you need to do the analysis properly.

New Post 9/18/2008 10:00 AM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: A theory of why humans don't like to analyse 


You stated:  "What they [BA's] do like are emotional reactions (quick and easy)."   Reminds me:  A somewhat famous IT author used to have an artical readily available on the web that referred to Use Cases as the "junk food" or requirements analysis".   (He has since taken it off.  I conversed with him about such via e-mail and he confided with me that he was sorry that he ever posted it.  I gues the UML police got to him.)

Anyways,   I too believe that most BA's do not like to do analysis.   I further believe that this is the big reason why there is so much confusion about what the heck a BA is supposed to do.    

So why do BA's (and SA's for that matter) dislike analysis?  I believe a big part of the answer is personal makeup.   I remember when I took the Yourdon course on Data Flow Diagramming some years ago.  It was a company course and there were about 35 members of the IT staff in attendence.   The instructor (a Yourdon consultant), while lecturing, stood at the podium and waved a copy of Tom DeMarco's book Structured Systems Analysis and Specification in the air (kind of like an evangelical preacher might wave the Bible in the air at a firey sermon) while strongly proclaiming the need for all to catch a fervor for DFDs or perish.   Seemingly everyone (except myself) zoned out.   During the breaks, some expressed that they could not wait until we moved on to the design class being offered next.     (I, however, was enthrald thinking, that DFDs were the greatest thing since the discovery of the wheel!)

Years later, I conversed via email with a lady who used to be a Yourdon Data Flow Diagram course instructor herself.  She told me that she and her fellow instructors referred to someone who showed a high interest in DFDs as someone "who has caught the fervor".   So maybe that is big part of the answer:  Analysis, especially something like formal analysis of a larger scale software system is hard work and requires an exceptionally fervent personality.


New Post 9/18/2008 12:30 PM
User is offline David Wright
141 posts
7th Level Poster

Re: A theory of why humans don't like to analyse 


I thought that Guy was saying that business people that BAs work with don't like analysis, not the BAs. ...Guy?

...but that doesn't negate your DFD training story. If people prefer design to analysis, its pretty clear they are not BAs (irrespective of company titles).

As for me, design is not much interest anymore. Remember back at the end of the cold war when the saying was the 'history was over'? Well, about the same time I thought 'design was over 'because of the arrival the Common User Access (CUA) standard, based on Object Orientation, that gave us the GUI layout, the one that said 'File'  was the first drop-down list on the menu line and all that. Then, the Internet and the free-form Webpage came along and undercut  CUA a bit, but the basics are still out there. So, while the nature of design (for information systems/applicaations) was of interest to me back in the 80's, it does not really blow any wind up my kilt anymore.

Now, Guy's original theory about how business people prefer instinct over analysis (if it can be summarized that way), is interesting. A lot has been written about the Business-IT 'gap', about how the two don't understand each other, and instinct versus analysis/thinking might be a good reason. Like most things, though, you need a balaace of both no matter which 'side' you are on, another good reason to keep trying to decrease that Gap.

David Wright
New Post 9/19/2008 12:28 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: A theory of why humans don't like to analyse 


Damn good point: "I find it more and more important to address the emotional rather than the logical.  I feel it is a maturing of my consulting skills."

Analysis communicates with the rational side of people who want to be rational. As BAs we have all kinds of methods and structures and approaches for doing that.

How do BAs communicate with those operating at the emotional level (cos they have abstracted what they think they need to know already)? We don't have a framework for doing that: we have the emotional intelligence people and all kinds of "take a swim in lake you" gurus, what we don't have (or I am not aware of) is a framework for doing analysis using emotions rather than logic! And - of course - it is not black and white: people do not operate either rationally or emotionally - it is a mixture...

Doing analysis by emotions rather than logic?!? How does that work? It would be the only genuinely new approach I have seen to BA over the last 20 years... It has set me thinking...

I feel fervent about this (Tony)!


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