Agile and lean thinking are starting to produce good results, not only in the world of start-ups, but also in IT environments in established organisations. But more value can be created, and more waste eliminated, by bringing lean principles to the business and to the business analysis profession. There are lots of great resources available online. In this post, I gathered some material that inspired me.
business architecture & analysis
The BA conference 2016: Transforming Ideas into Action. Far too much inspiration to wrap up in a short blog, but still, here are some of my takeaways.
Sometimes, it only takes twenty seconds of insane courage to get what we want. The courage to simply ask for it. Want to be involved during project initiation and not just execution? Ask. Want to try a new technique or approach your stakeholders are not used to? Do it and see what happens.
While spending some time in Rio for facilitating a business case training, I got to see quite a lot of surfers (mostly before work hours, mind you). At the same time, I came across a video about the Samsung Galaxy Surfboard. The video shows a surfboard with a LED display, enabling the surfer to check weather and water conditions, like the frequency of waves, and to receive text messages. It’s a nice example of how technology can be integrated in just about any aspect of our life.
This demonstrates how digital transformation is blending online and offline worlds, or analog and digital worlds, into a single human experience. It shows how technology has become a powerful enabler for improving our lives. But technology still is just that: an enabler.
An important task for any BA is finding out why. Why do we need this project? Why do we need this requirement? Without understanding the why (the rationale), there is a significant risk of building the wrong solution or implementing features in an ineffective way.
Saying no to strategies, projects and requirements, is a quick and fun technique to uncover a stakeholder’s reasoning and increase your understanding of the project and proposed solution.
Business stakeholders want projects to deliver fast. They often come to the project team with a clear view of the solution, expecting a quick start and not leaving much room or time for challenging and proposing alternatives. However, this mind set carries with it an important risk: blindly building the proposed solution does not guarantee business value.
Remember the last time you’ve made a non trivial purchase, like a fridge, a smartphone or a new car. Would you be comfortable if you were given only one fridge, smartphone or car to choose from? Probably not. However, in business, we often tend to stick to the first solution that comes to mind, even though the investment is typically much bigger.
What role can alternatives play when defining and implementing business changes?
I remember some legendary tennis matches from my childhood. Matches between top players like John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker. But most of all, it was Andre Agassi that kept me hooked on TV. Apart from being a great tennis player, he had some rock star allure, was funny at the right times, was just enough underdog to earn extra sympathy points and he made an impressive comeback. So when he’s interviewed by HBR, I’m all ears. And he has some interesting life lessons to share.
Take a minute to think about your latest change project. Did you achieve the goals of the project? Can you actually, honestly tell? If not, you’re not alone. Most projects fail to specify concrete, falsifiable goals. Goals that allow you to check whether you have achieved them or not.
Why is this, and how can we improve?
Often, the trigger for new projects consists of ideas at two levels: very generic and very specific. For example:
- Generic: “We need to improve customer experience.”
- Specific: “We should let customers enter their personal data online before their visit to our branch office.”
Both levels are relevant. Both contain useful information. But something is missing: the link between them. Luckily, the BA is in the perfect position to make that link visible.
It’s been already two weeks after the end of the 2015 edition of the European Business Analysis Conference, but it still feels like yesterday. I’ve finally come around to write up some of the things that stick with me (a good trigger to revive my blog :)). Only some of the things, though: there were plenty other inspiring moments and ideas. But here’s a small sample to give you a taste.