re:BASED Conference 2022

Reality Über Alles!

R.P. Churchill

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt | Portfolio | Presentations
  • Systems Analyst
  • System Architect
  • Software Engineer
  • Tech Lead / Product Owner
  • Discovery Lead / Data Collector
  • Simulation Engineer
  • Operations Research Analyst / Data Analyst
  • Control Systems Engineer
  • Field Engineer
  • Project / Program / Product Manager
  • Process Improvement Specialist
  • UI/UX Designer
  • Full Life Cycle Engineer

Mostly in a vendor or consultant role working for small, highly specialized companies providing technical services to larger organizations.

Link to detailed discussion.

30 Years of Simulation


  • Paper (Chemical/Process)
  • Nuclear (Power Generation)
  • Metals (Steel, Non-Ferrous)
  • HVAC (Building Control)
  • Insurance, Banking, Legal
  • Security, Inspections
  • Passenger Processing
  • Medical Facilities
  • Evacuations
  • Area Control
  • Threat Response
  • Logistics, Supply
  • Maintenance and Reliability
  • Staff Level Determination
  • Fleet Management



  • Design and Sizing
  • Operations Research
  • Real-Time Control
  • Operator Training
  • Risk Analysis
  • Economic Analysis
  • Impact Analysis
  • Process Improvement (BPR)

Architectural Considerations

  • Continuous vs. Discrete-Event
  • Interactive vs. Fire-and-Forget
  • Real-Time vs. Non-Real-Time
  • Single-Platform vs. Distributed
  • Deterministic vs. Stochastic
The Framework:
  • Project Planning
  • Intended Use
  • Assumptions, Capabilities, Limitations, and Risks and Impacts
  • Conceptual Model (As-Is State)
  • Data Sources, Collection, and Conditioning
  • Requirements (To-Be State: Abstract)
    • Functional (What it Does)
    • Non-Functional (What it Is, plus Maintenance and Governance)
  • Design (To-Be State: Detailed)
  • Implementation
  • Test
    • Operation, Usability, and Outputs (Verification)
    • Outputs and Fitness for Purpose (Validation)
  • Acceptance (Accreditation)
  • Project Close
The Framework: Simplified
  •   Intended Use
  •   Conceptual Model (As-Is State)
  •   Data Sources, Collection, and Conditioning
  •   Requirements (To-Be State: Abstract)
    • Functional (What it Does)
    • Non-Functional (What it Is, plus Maintenance and Governance)
  •   Design (To-Be State: Detailed)
  •   Implementation
  •   Test
    • Operation, Usability, and Outputs (Verification)
    • Outputs and Fitness for Purpose (Validation)
Continuous Iteration and Correction

Regardless of the structure of the engagement, the activities in each phase are carried out in an iterative fashion that continuously incorporates review, feedback, and correction both within and between phases.

Link to detailed discussion.

Basic Engagement Structures

Link to detailed discussion.

Engagement Structure Variations

Link to detailed discussion.

Tracking Across the Engagement

Items are tracked using a Requirements Traceability Matrix.

Omissions recognized in later phases can cause items to be created in earlier phases.

Procedural requirements may apply to each phase.

Link to detailed discussion.

BA vs. PM

PM manages engagement, BA facilitates solution. (Not starkly clear cut.)

Link to detailed discussion.

PM is kind of a wrapper around BA work. Both should work together.

Link to detailed discussion.

Making Sure The Analysis Is Thorough


  • Consider all elements from all angles.
  • UML is a formal example. The BABOK is more diffuse.
  • Simulation is great for understanding because the results show if everything is included.
  • Formal mathematical proofs of correctness and optimality exist for some problems.
  • Customer review and realized results are the best proof for most BA engagements.
Assumptions, Capabilities, Limitations, and Risks & Impacts

Define the scope of the project and what capabilities and considerations will and will not be included.

Describe the risks inherent in the effort and the possible impacts of risk items occurring.

Reasons to omit features and capabilities:

  • Outside of natural or organizational boundaries
  • Insufficient data or understanding
  • Impact on results is small (benefit not worth cost)
  • Components aren't active in modes being investigated

Sometimes assume values when data can't be had, rather than omit an effect.

Really happens before, during, and after the Conceptual Model phase.

Assumptions, Capabilities, and Risks & Impacts (cont'd)

One way to think about (simplifying) assumptions as zeroing out terms in an equation when they don't apply.

Complex and novel problems cannot be handled so simply (like global climate modeling, where absolutely everything is -- and should be -- up for grabs).

Value-Neutral vs. Value-Laden (see also Positive vs. Normative)

In cultural matters:

  • Value-Neutral: holidays, foods, traditional clothing, architecture, arts and crafts
  • Value-Laden: modes of governance (control vs. liberty)

There is often a basic (and sometimes purposeful) conflation of the two.

In project work:

  • Value-Neutral: technology, what's actually happening, what is legitimately most efficient, what works
  • Value-Laden: choice of projects, being forced to ignore certain considerations, some people and organizations are privileged over others, suboptimal prior decisions
Newsworthy Examples of Not Adhering to Reality
  • Virology Models: not tuned, assumed solution, inaccurate data inputs, didn't scale across multiple processors, point answers instead of range answers, limited range of solutions tried
  • Global Climate Models: accuracy of method is inherently limited (especially over long time scales), too many effects not included (solar input, cosmic conditions, volcanoes, blowing sand, industrial particulates, rare events), too many effects modeled incorrectly (saturation limits runaway feedback, incomplete cloud models, whole lists of atmospheric effects and chemical reactions, local interactions between ground/water/air, changes in vegetation and ground cover), ridiculous and biased data inputs (ocean temperatures), incomplete understanding of past and inability to replicate past, chaos / sensitive dependence on initial conditions, total heat balance vs. local effects, overly "convenient" choices of sampling and reporting periods
  • Club of Rome / World Economic Models: no accounting for substitution effects, no understanding of Austrian economics and (and the unpredictability of) human action

Common issues: no funding for "wrong" findings, not considering all aspects of problem, not considering economic effects or liberty effects, lack of humility, belief in experts and the state, confusing the appearance of science with the way science actually works (scientism), reliance on consensus rather than correctness, "big man" problem, ineffective peer review, capture of journals and scientific research institutional apparatus, political power trips, protecting rice bowls

More Mundane Examples of Not Adhering to Reality

Bridges fall down, planes crash, etc.: see Order of the Engineer

Organizations lose money: ideas work or not, and find customer acceptance or not

Solutions make problems worse: many interventions have the exact opposite of their intended effect

Technical work is beside the point: problem is at the management / strategic level (readiness modeling examples)

What Are We Facing?

Many of the difficulties I've touched on can be honest ones.

It seems to me that the purpose of this conference is to deal with more purposeful ones.

Much of the current environment is driven by a purposeful rejection of the Enlightenment, sometimes through misunderstanding, and sometimes for naked merciless power.

Understanding can be aided by describing how Enlightenment thinking actually is the quickest, surest, and best way to bring about the results everyone wants. Power must be called out, resisted, and rejected.

Choices You Must Make

Who to work for: governments, woke corporations, crazed HR departments

How much to speak up: How likely are you to get fired / laid off? Will anyone listen? Are your comments inherently against the mission? How strong is your position / reputation? How replaceable are you?

Backup plans: What are your options to work elsewhere? Can you start a side-hustle? Can you gain access to friendly communities? Can you retire? Can you work for yourself? Can you train for something else? What part of your career are you in?

How do you address extant responsibilities: spouse, children, parents, other family, debts

What Choices Did I Make and What Was/Is My Plan B?

This presentation and other information can be found at my website: