That riff about business analysis myopia

Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

The lesson is that people are too focused on solutions and don’t spend enough time understanding what their stakeholders’ problems are or the best way to solve them.

What do they want a hole for?

Do they want one hole or many holes?

Are they decorative, or load-bearing holes?

Will the holes be made in brick or wood, or paper?

Should the holes been made according to a specification?

Is time, cost or quality the metric that they’re measuring success on?

A drill bit is one of many ways to get a hole. Depending on what is needed, we can give different options for achieving the goal.

But even that doesn’t go far enough. A hole is a means to an end.

The holes in the brick wall are an immediate result. The extra storage space once the shelf has been erected on the wall is the end result. That’s what the stakeholder had in mind when they bought the drill. That’s what they really wanted.

But wait…

They also have in mind the desire to see their stuff organised and away on the shelf.

Or perhaps the peace of mind that the old storage spot is left uncluttered.

Or knowing their expensive equipment is now stored safely.

Or the accomplishment of doing the job themselves.

Or the kudos from their family and friends.

Or belonging to the ‘DIY club’.

Your eyesight might be blurred by business analysis myopia—a nearsighted focus on building products and services, rather than seeing the “big picture” of what stakeholders really want.

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want to to feel in control and empowered.



Negotiating pizza

When you order pizza from the menu:

Is it customary to expect extra-toppings to be free?

Is it customary to tell the chef that the cooking time is too long?

Is it customary to play the restaurant off against the pizza parlour down the road?

Is it customary to negotiate the hourly rate of staff with the restaurant owner to lower the price?

Most puzzling: why are these customs default practice when trying to build a relationship with your supplier?

Books for July

A Whole New Mind, fifteen years old, by Daniel H. Pink. It’s about how everything is switching (yes, the next revolution has started) and what’s needed from you.

The Medici Effect, by Frans Johansson. Because the word innovation is heard everywhere, yet seen in few places.

Atomic Habits, by James Clear. James knows how to make good habits and break bad ones—and as the change expert you need to too.

And if you have never read Maverick!, by Ricardo Semler, today’s a great day to quantum leap.

Blogging habit

June started (and ended with) a new habit on this blog, there was a post everyday.

Habits need resolve at first, but then the resolution turns into focus, and that focus becomes a habit.

Habits have their rewards.

Habits shift the question from “Will I?” to ‘What will I?”.

I use this blog as a sandpit to clarify my thoughts and sharpen my ideas. I use it to overcome procrastination—the idea being to write a post in less than 30 minutes—and perfectionism—by writing like I talk and shipping, no matter what it might be.

I appreciated you being a part of it.

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Business interrupted: What’s Next?

Business is being interrupted. Influenced by expected and unforeseen digital, health, social, and economic forces, causing everyone to reimagine what is possible.

The world is shifting, setting a new course which intersects customer, business, product and change. Bringing together the expertise of Business Owners, Project Managers, Product Managers, UX Designers, Data Scientists and Change Managers in collaboration with the Business Analysis Professional.

Together we’re weaving words, pictures and stories while balancing logic and creativity. But what’s working? And what’s next?

Do the structures need to change? What roles will we see emerge? How will our skills evolve? What techniques will we use? And how will our tools fit this future?

You have ideas worth hearing. Consider sharing them at BA Summit 2020.