The Case for the Business Case

Asking someone else to make the business case for their proposal is the ultimate trump card when  discussion is not going your way.  When someone proposes an idea that will require you to realign a portion of the paradigms you hold in your chosen domain the best solution is to simply ask them to make the business case for their proposal.  This trump card of decision making can save you hours of pointless toil in reading documentation to gain a deeper understanding of your domain so that you can refute their proposal on technical grounds.  It is always much better to put the onus back on the proposer by requiring they make the business case for their proposal before the technical considerations can be discussed.

It is especially helpful to agree with that individual on the merit of their proposal with the caveat that they make the business case.  Most will wither at the notion that they should even consider the business in the first place and you will be free to carry on as you please with that individuals proposal safely tucked away in your organizations third party repository for ideas that were dead on arrival.  You can assure the individual who made the proposal that you will personally beat the chest of their now dead idea to bring it back to life the very moment the business case can be made.

This is only the surface of the true beauty of the business case.  The real secret to making the business case is that it is impossible.  Naive individuals will immediately start hunting for the numbers that will prove their point.  Of course you already know that those numbers cannot be obtained.  Probably because the numbers don’t exist, and if they do they are inaccurate (which you can smugly point out).  If the numbers are accurate, it is unlikely that the keepers of those numbers will be comfortable sharing with this otherwise bottom of the organization chart employee, especially when it comes to true costs.

All of this said, under no circumstances should you admit that the subject simply went over your head without investing time to understand it and that you might need the person making the proposal to help you understand it.  This is obviously a sign of weakness.  Moreover, if you were to do this, you would be forced to learn and everyone can agree that learning is rarely fun.  It is a painful experience that should be avoided at all costs.

The business case aligns perfectly with the values of modern day businesses.  Short term gains beat all.  Consequences be damned.  Short term losses in exchange for long term gains should be regarded as abject failure.  The business knows this.  Make sure your do-gooder co-workers know this too.  Always demand that they make the business case.  Armed with this all powerful trump card, you can finally stop nonsense discussions about quality and improvement in their tracks.