Our daughter is an elementary school teacher in Austin - and a Graduate student at UT Austin in the Board Certified Behavioral Analyst program. When I hear about some corrective action to an unnamed cause - not the symptom but the cause - like estimates are the smell of dysfunction, I think of a chart she has hanging in her room for her students, where they are learning critical thinking skills they will need in life.
- Focus Question - what is the question we're trying to explore? Is that question clearly formed?
- Prediction - is there a prediction of what the possible outcomes might be when we discover the answer to the question? This is important, because we need to separate the answers into plausible answers and implausible answers. That way we can sort out the Wheat from the Chaff. Which is a nice way of saying sorting out the BS from the plausible.
- Plan - OK, now what's our plan to start exploring. This is exploring is a directed exploring. Not a wandering around looking for Unicorns in the forest. That is called a Snipe Hunt. There is no Snipe to hunt, but it's a fun thing to do for novice and naive tenderfoots in the scout pack or the business of spending other people's money.
- Data - what data will we need to develop to support our search for the answer to the Focus Question? Where would we find this data? How will we be able to validate this data. Is this data personal anecdotes or is it from a principled framework that can be tested in the absence of the person providing the data.
- Claims & Evidence - when claims are made, is there any testable evidence of that data? And most importantly is there any testability that supports the Focus Question?
- Reflection - with this process, what do we learn? Was there a prediction that could be tested - estimates are the smell of dysfunction? How would you test that conjecture? What would the predicted outcome of that Focus Question and Prediction in terms of measurable evidence? Do we have a Plan to explore that question - or are we just going to wander around looking for that mythical Unicorn that will bring Rainbows and Sunshine to our project? Where is this data? How did we find it? Journal papers, books, actual data collected ourselves using good data analysis techniques - not the pesky Flaw of Averages approach, but an actual data collection process? For claim to be credible there needs to be evidence to support the claim.
So in the end if 2nd graders in Austin Texas can figure this out, why can't adults tasked with spending other people's money do this as well?