Monday, May 24, 2004

The Analysis Process

by Asim Jalis

1. Analysis Process. Here is how the process of analysis works. We take a subject and some questions. We repeat what we know about them. We rephrase the questions. Then we try to answer them. Also we brainstorm. In this way we collect a lot of random observations and facts. When this begins to slow down we reorganize the information we have and start again. Each time we cycle through the information and the questions, new insights occur. This is the basic approach. 2. Patterns of Success. This is a specific type of inquiry. We start with some concrete cases that we are trying to generalize from, and then we ask: Why did things happen this way in one case but not in another? We can enumerate the differences between the cases. Some differences will be incidental and others will be essential. In the end we determine rules or patterns that can be used to predict whether a project will succeed or fail. 3. Patterns of Innovation. This is another specific inquiry. A successful company might ask what it should do next. In this case we assess it's currently successful products and try to figure out their essense. What is this company good at? And why are it's products successful? Also who are its customers? By meditating on these questions we arrive at other potential products this company could launch. We propose products that will leverage the company's current position in the market place, its strengths, and also the characteristics of its current customers. 4. Problem Solving. For problem solving, state and restate the problem. Propose tentative solutions. Then list their problems. As solutions are proposed new problems come to light, which must be addressed. Over time coherent solutions emerge that address all the issues. The process is designed to bring issues to light. 5. A Messy Process. The process is messy. We repeat a lot of things and go over the same ideas again and again. Each time we go over the ideas we incrementally improve them. Each incremental improvement looks inconsequential and insignificant. But over time, and over iterations we arrive at insights that are both genuine and deep. By exploring immediate and obvious logical consequences we arrive at consequences that are profound and unobvious. 6. Helping Entrepreneurs. We can use this kind of analysis to determine why Microsoft succeeded so well with its original BASIC interpreter. We can extract patterns of success that other innovators and entrepreneurs can exploit to stage their own success. 7. Helping Managers. We can use the patterns of innovation process to explore products that a small dotcom can create to quickly dominate its market. Our analysis can allow a smaller company to overtake and acquire a previously unachievable success in the marketplace. 8. Observation. It might be easier to do this analysis on paper than on a computer. It might also be easier to do this as a mindmap than as linear notes.