"The Rule of 8 – Not" – A "Discerning False Patterns in PACT" Story and Lessons Learned

The blank format above seems to anticipate that this Enabling K/S Matrices will be used in a situation where there will be 7 AoPs – Areas of Performance.

I created this 7-AoP version of the KSM due to a little incident within a Client Team back in the early 1990s – involving the standard graphic at the time – one with 8 Areas of Performance columns – after the K/S Item column.

The incident was caused by my very analytic Clients who after having been trained/certified by me in the CAD Analysis and Design Methodologies had picked up on the fact that “all” of my examples and exercises always had the same number of AoPs in anything to do with analysis that was covered in their first workshop – and that there were also always other aspects of my examples and exercises involving 8 that I used for teaching the design approaches (subtly reinforcing this new/unintended rule of 8’s?) in their second workshop.

So when I was brought in a couple of years later to train/certify another class or two of new CAD Practitioners – the newly trained folks were soon taken to task by those trained years earlier – for not having enough AoPs (Areas of Performance) in the data from their analysis efforts.

So they had me fly back into town for a follow-up session to deal with several CAD process “issues” that they wanted clarification on – and for three people who wanted/needed additional coaching. But we started our session with the big controversy of “the number of AoPs.”

One new PACT CAD Practitioner had done some analysis where “there was only one AoP” – and it soon had been highly questioned and severely criticized – to the point that my Client decided to bring me in to help clear this up.

The one AoP? Copy Video Tapes.

Now why that “low hanging-fruit of a job” in a multi-national energy company was targeted for this approach is another question/challenge – but moving off of that to the number (8 or 7) of AoPs that one should strive to “find/uncover/force” – the number should always be reflective of complexity of the job. Some jobs are very complex – many moving parts some might say. Others are simple.

But there is no right answer. Carving up a big complex job into 9 or 10 AoPs may be very arbitrary.

So I am sitting in one of their classrooms facing about 40 people. And several people take turns describing the “issue” and their views about the “issue.”

They seem to want to know:

Is there a goal of striving to find 8 Areas of Performance in PACT and CAD?

Because this one job to copy video tapes really didn’t have anything else at all in terms of additional job content – and the controversy was over shouldn’t THAT work content (copy video tapes) be broken down further to get more granularity – and get closer to 8.

Even some of the “8” proponents were struggling of how to take this one job and get to 8. So everyone was very curious.

“8?” – I’m wondering. Where did they get 8? So I asked.

Well, someone began, all of the examples you always use have 8 AoPs in them. Every example!

Wow. They were right. The law of unintended consequences at play – and it had nailed me.

Murphy in the house!

Here is another non-example of “The Rule of 8’s – NOT!” – but if combined with other 7-AoP samples/examples then I hopefully don’t inadvertently convey some Rule of 8…

"The Rule of 8 - Not" - A "Discerning False Patterns in PACT" Story and Lessons Learned

I thought for a moment – about how to both convey that there had been a false read – a false interpretation of what I had taught (for I had in no way ever deliberately tried to teach anyone in the analysis training/certification to “go for 8” for the right number of AoPs) – and find some way to congratulate some of them for being so analytical – and to warn them to ALSO be wary of reading too much into anything that they “seem to uncover” – some pattern that they “discern.”

One Lesson? To be much more careful to always explain “what is and what is not and what sits on the borderline.”

Using the same pattern over and over again may convey (inadvertently and erroneously) that there are always around 7 or 8 AoPs.

Why was I caught using this pattern – why did I use the pattern of 8 AoPs in my examples, demos, and exercises?

I was taking a class designed for 16 and splitting them into two groups so that I could process them through hands-on exercises (APPOS in PACT-lingo) where everyone got a chance for a hands-on experience.

16 divided by 2 equals 8.

Here is a 7-AoP graphic used to explain/teach the PACT analysis process for Deriving the enabling K/Ss…created after my discovery in the early 1990s…

The PACTlogic has few rules in terms of size, length, etc. It is more about how data are related to each other…

The PRIMARY but not all of the Data Linkages in PACT

PACT Data Logic

The Lessons Learned
It’s Murphy’s Law!

Anticipate the inadvertant. Ask yourself: what can be misconstrued? What can be mis-applied? What can go wrong?

And then: Why is that?

Ask “Why is that” up to 5 times, in reponse to any answers as to “why” – as often as necessary.

Explain yourself as you go – as you present – and really think about the patterns you are putting forward and discuss any logic in the number or linkage of one to another.

Because your audience may be doing it anyway – and reading too much into what they are seeing! Into patterns unintended. Into patterns intended for other purposes.

Explain what it is not as well as what it is. And explore “borderline” situations/conditions.

And revisit the topic as often as needed.

PACT is covered in my book: lean-ISD – and is available as a free 404-page PDF at http://www.eppic.biz/

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