Simplicity Is Elegance, Not Stupidity

“Something that looks very simple indeed can be incredibly complicated, especially if I’m being paid by the hour. The Sun is simple. A sword is simple, A storm is simple. Behind everything simple is a huge tail of complicated.”Terry Pratchett

“Simplicity of reading derives from a context of detailed and complex information, properly arranged. A most unconventional design strategy is reveled: to clarify, add detail.—Ed Tufte

“God is in the detail.”—Mies van der Rohe, or Warburg, or maybe even Flaubert

“Simpleness is another aesthetic preference, not an information display strategy, not a guide to clarity. What we seek instead is a rich texture of data, a comparative context, an understanding of complexity revealed with an economy of means.”—Ed Tufte

“Ye said she’s a bit simple: find a teacher who can bring out the complicated in her. The girl learned a difficult language just by listening to it. The world needs folk who can do that.”Terry Pratchett

“The devil is in the details”—Common lore

“Confusion and clutter are failures of design, not attributes of information. And so the point is to find design strategies that reveal detail and complexity—rather than to fault the data for an excess of complication. Or, worse, to fault viewers for a lack of understanding.”—Ed Tufte

“If we’re going to be sapient, we might as well get good at it. Come on.”– Terry Pratchett 

Life & Plans, Part 2

“You try to make plans for people, and the people make other plans.” Terry Pratchett

“The planning fallacy occurs when individuals and groups try to plan complex projects and underestimate the true cost, expanse, and time of the project. Mario Weick and Ana Guinote found that people in a position of power are particularly vulnerable to the planning fallacy. Perhaps feeling powerful causes them to focus on getting what they want and to ignore hurdles, or having so much self-confidence causes them to avoid worst case scenarios.” – Michael A. Roberto, Transformational Leadership

“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you don’t know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you are going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” Terry Pratchett

“Always remember where you are going and never forget where you’ve been.”  today’s cookie fortune

“The important question, which is rarely thought of, is ‘What do people need to do their best work?’” – David K. Johnson


Business consultants are often accused of being hired to tell you what you just told them.  In a certain sense, this is true.  A good analyst will learn your business model and come to know it as well as or better than you do.  Your aims and priorities will be documented and shared with your whole leadership team, developing a common vision for the future.  But more than that, you will be given a plan to make your vision come true.  That is what you should expect from your business analyst. 



Performance.  Your business analyst concludes the study by setting the stage for performing a business transformation based on requirements gathered.  The study results are presented formally, and the reports and supporting work documents are handed over to you.  These materials should include, at least, a problem definition document, a description and assessment of the current business state, a description of the desired future state, and a pro forma execution plan allowing you to move from the current to the future state.  Additionally, the analysis materials may include a list of alternative solutions, a list of circumstances considered in choosing the recommended solution, a list of risk factors and mitigating actions associated with moving to the future state, and a high level cost estimate for implementing the execution plan. 


Process.  The collection of business requirements is an art unto itself that requires experienced practitioners and facilitators.  Your business analyst should have a general familiarity with the problem domain, as well as good interpersonal skills.  The analyst should come prepared with a “tool kit” of templates for methodology, process and deliverable work products.  The process of eliciting requirements may take the form of written questionnaires, individual interviews, holistic brainstorming seminars, focused workshops or any and all of these techniques.  Depending on the scope of work, you may have a single analyst or a whole analyst team sited on your premises.  The results of the requirements elicitation process should be documented in work product templates, and classified according to the work methodology. 


Dealing with Stupidity – Part 2

“No matter what, the operating moral premise of information design should be that our readers are alert and caring; they may be busy, eager to get on with it, but they are not stupid. Clarity and simplicity are completely opposite simple-mindedness. Disrespect for the audience will leak through, damaging communication.”

—Ed Tufte

So, in my interpretation, the best way to avoid stupidity is for oneself to not be stupid in the first place. That is, stupid is as stupid does. Or, in other words, acting stupidly invites further stupidity.