In this episode, Adrian helps us stay out of rabbit holes and avoid developing solutions that don’t address the real opportunity through thin slicing problem analysis.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • How to avoid rabbit holes and stay focused on solving the real problem
  • What it means to thin slice problems and why it’s helpful
  • How to use the ‘Who, What, Why” approach to avoid implementing the wrong solution

Show Notes

Rabbit holes . . . we’ve all been there.  We go down the wrong path with a solution that won’t meet our customers’ needs.

When stakeholders fall in love with a solution, they get trapped by the Solution Illusion.  They push forward with something that users don’t want.  We need to answer the ‘why’ question to understand the problem we’re trying to solve.


Thin Slicing Problem Analysis

By taking a thin slice through the ‘why, what, and how’ leads you to discover answers without going down rabbit holes.

The ‘why’ is the problem we’re trying to solve.  It may include a problem statement and success metrics.  The ‘what’ is what needs to change in order to solve the problem.  This may include use cases or a context diagram.  It’s a slice of the high level requirements.

The ‘how’ is the high level solution approach.  This isn’t specific solutions, just the solution approach.

By thin slicing, we start with just enough of the ‘why, what, and how’ to validate that we’re going after the right problem.  We then iterate as the project progresses and you get closer to the details.

This slicing encourage divergent thinking before narrowing options with convergent thinking.

By shifting left and getting involved earlier in the project process, we can help ensure the organization is going after the right opportunities.  Even if we’re dropped in the middle of a project, we should validate the problem space and solution space.


Listen to the full episode to understand why you need to get involved earlier in the project and how to iterate on your problem discovery.



Your Homework

We need to work to left shift and get involved earlier in projects.  When a BA is involved early in projects, we not only smooth the way forward for the project, we may discover that there’s not even a viable project at all and we can focus our effort elsewhere.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Adrian Reed

Adrian Reed

Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions

Adrian is Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions, providing business analysis consultancy and training solutions to a range of clients in varying industries.  He is the former President of the UK chapter of the IIBA and speaks internationally on topics related to business analysis and business change.


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