Customer Analytics – From Those Who Should Know

I ran into an interesting paper about thinking about analytics – A Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis.

It’s a useful read to explore and challenge analytical arguments and mind-sets.

BTW, I don’t know to be hopeful or concerned that that this is the state of the art of analytical thinking at this agency.

2 Responses

  1. [...] Customer Analytics – From Those Who Should Know « Steve Blank (tags: reasoning philosophy Thinking) [...]

  2. I had this forwarded to me by another source and this today and I must say I was disappointed if this is the best that they can pull together. In the first part, they talk about the problem of bias that comes with doing analysis from any static mindset and they give plenty of examples of how a mindset acts as a filter that EXCLUDES ALL INFORMATION that doesn’t fit (Pearl Harbor, Cuban missile crisis, India’s nuclear testing, etc.). Boyd talked about this at length in the OODA loop – it’s impossible to observe something you have filtered out.

    The prescription in this paper was that analysts should do a bunch of exercises (brainstorming and scenario planning for heaven’s sake!) that only serve to further entrench an existing mindset. The authors talk a lot about surfacing and testing assumptions but didn’t stop to examine their own assumptions about the customer (analysts). If we think for one quick moment, what would have to be true for analysts to jump through these extra hoops?

    – The customers would have to be willing to do a lot of extra work (meetings)
    – The customers would have to have sufficient skill at running these processes to get decent outcomes (e.g.- scenario planning is actually difficult to lead to a productive result)
    OR
    – Skilled process facilitation would need to be available and sought out by the customers
    – Some mechanism would need to be in place to prevent customer group dynamics from pulling things back in to established mental tracks
    – The customers would need to have the skills to translate the outcomes into something actionable.

    Given all of these preconditions for success, the joint probabilities multiplied together result in a near zero likelihood that these recommendations will be implemented. They should have done a little bit of Customer Discovery…

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