Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross


Many predators hunt based on movement. In fact, even with their keen eyesight, they cannot really "see" unless the prey itself moves. Consequently, many hunted animals are programmed literally to "freeze with fear." Not a bad move if it tends to save your life.

Recently, I had the chance to review a major-league mess at a large organization that didn't "freeze with fear." I won't go into all the details, but let's just say they got on with the coding phase of a large project way too early. The wounds are deep, and one way or another, the company will ooze red ink, its very lifeblood. Where did it go wrong? The usual no architecture, no business rules, no top-down business model.

On the software side, the company was sold a bill of goods. It was promised that a breakthrough software product could replace their legacy systems in four months. (Yes, they should have known better.) To go with that was a spiral "methodology" based on the mantra, "analyze a little, design a little, code a little, test a little." The company learned the hard way what that actually means in practice-rewrite a lot, for a very long time.

Projects out of control, and belief in the fairy godmother-these are nothing new. I know this has been said many times, but let me say it yet again. There are simply no silver bullets. You need to do a business model before you do your system design, and you need to do your system design before you start your coding. That is, unless you can afford to spend the rest of your life in rewrites and "maintenance."

So, what does "analysis paralysis" really indicate? Maybe that...

  • The business problem itself is hard. Do you believe that thinking about it in a coding language (or in IT system models) will make it easier?

  • You don't really know what the business problem is. In that case, the cure may prove a lot worse than the disease.

  • You can't get the right answers from the right people. Then what exactly are your chances of success?

  • You have significant differences of opinion about the business itself. Do you think programmers will make better choices?

  • The future is hard to predict. Do designers and programmers have better crystal balls?

  • You don't really know what is needed. So rolling the dice is the right answer?

  • There's actually no answer to the business problem as posed. Better rethink the business problem up front!

  • You're simply not smart enough to solve it. I doubt that, not if you get the right people together.

  • You don't have the right approach. That's the most likely one. Think architecture, business rules, and a top-down business model, and you'll be O.K.

So the next time you hear anyone say watch out for "analysis paralysis," I hope you will take pause. Just freeze-it may save your life. Somewhere close by there's probably a programmer poised to pounce on a keyboard.

1999, Ronald G. Ross.

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About our Contributor:

Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the BRS Methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:

Ron serves as Executive Editor of and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on For more information about Ron visit Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

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