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The application of first principle in requirement analysis in software development.

source from: internalpublish date: 2023年5月4日

With the success of Elon Musk, the first principle he advocates has also emerged. If you are not clear about what this principle is about, you can take a look at these examples: Tesla's biggest cost in manufacturing electric cars comes from battery components. The R&D team found that the cost of battery components was $600 per kilowatt-hour, but Elon used first principle thinking to divide the battery into various metal elements and other components, and optimized every part of the production process, origin, and supply chain, eventually reducing the cost of the battery component to $80 per kilowatt-hour. Similarly, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket only has two stages with 10 engines that are all identical, which not only reduces costs but also increases reliability.

The traditional way of thinking is comparative thinking, which is based on an existing thing for partial optimization. First principle thinking emphasizes starting from the essence of things, focusing only on the core objectives without being constrained or misled by additional information or traditional solutions. Understanding the meaning of first principles, it is exciting to find that it should be applied to the requirement analysis and system design phase. Some information shared by clients includes their problem itself and their solution suggestions, and the importance of the former should be higher than that of the latter. Designers should not blindly follow prototypes and need to read brief original requirements from clients. Therefore, the company now requires that all preliminary requirement analyses must produce concise requirement documents based on first principles (the document template will be provided by PMO later), and the importance of the document precedes that of the prototype, while the production time of the document is earlier than that of the prototype.

Finally, to clarify some easily misunderstood points:

Prototypes are still important. 

Prototypes are the most effective tools for clarifying requirements with customers, as they ensure product consistency and reduce programmer errors. Their value cannot be replaced by requirement documents. 

The thinking of incremental innovation and continuous improvement is equally important. 

Introducing first principles only aims to tell everyone not to be limited to one thinking mode or think that "one trick works for all." 

Starting from scratch without standing on the shoulders of giants will certainly be more difficult, and there will be more challenges. 

Therefore, before doing this, sufficient thought preparation and feasibility research must be done, otherwise a tragic ending of "dying before succeeding" may occur.

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