Straw Man

What Does Straw Man Mean?

A straw man generally refers to the first rough proposal created for criticism and testing in software development. It initializes discussions and feedback to develop a new and better proposal. A straw man is a kind of prototype solution to a problem, usually built on incomplete information to discover its disadvantages and work out better solutions.


A straw man proposal is generally prepared by one or two people before starting the actual project. Team members then discuss the contents and key aspects of the document and contribute their ideas to develop a better proposal.

Techopedia Explains Straw Man

A straw man proposal is intended and designed as a temporary document/proposal that will be replaced with a more significant document based on the suggestions from the software develop team’s members. A straw man proposal is continuously refined and modified until a final document is created. Although a straw man is a rough document, it helps to ensure that all members involved in a project have a common understanding of what that project entails. A straw man can take the form of an outline, a set of charts, a presentation or a hard-copy document.

The straw man concept can be implemented in a sales company with decreasing revenue. In this case, it might involve the following steps:

  1. A draft proposal is created to expand the business.
  2. Businesses providing a decent number of prospects are outlined based on initial experience and judgment.
  3. The straw man copy is created and kept open for the team to provide honest feedback and suggestions. (It is important to clearly inform the team that it is a straw man and not the final word and that it has been created for the sake of improvement and criticism.)
  4. The inputs and suggestions are taken and the proposal is analyzed for any weak points. Then, the assumptions and decision-making criteria are clarified. Finally, a new, refined proposal is created.
  5. A new proposal is created and presented again for a final decision.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.