There are two kinds of people in the world – Clumpers and Splitters. Clumpers are people who look at things – systems, processes, movies, or furniture – and see similarities. Splitters look at those same things and see the differences.
I don’t know how you become a Clumper or a Splitter – genetic predisposition or life experience - but in my experience everybody has a tendency to be more one than the other.
Why is this relevant? Well, when I look at implementing changes in an organization, it’s important to be a Clumper early on, and then act like a Splitter in the later stages.
When you are looking at business requirements, if you view each user location or set of stakeholders as having different unique businesses and requirements (i.e., splitting), you can become overwhelmed by the diversity of needs. If, however, you look for the commonalities (i.e., clumping), you can find the common denominators across the system users and implement a solution that meets the bulk of the needs across the organization.
Then, in subsequent phases, you can think like a Splitter and look at the differences required to handle different customer needs, or geographic regions, etc., and assess the value of those differences to your business and decide how to handle them – add enhancements to the system, change the business process or even decide to not address them at all. It becomes a business decision that ties to your overall business objectives (see Christy’s Rule #2 – tie your changes to business goals).