Is working fun? Are your projects joyful? Claudia Michalik’s BA Game at the 2019 Business Analysis pre-conference workshops clearly showed me they could be, and perhaps even should be.
Meetings where people are talking but not listening, workshops where laptops and smartphones scream for participants' attention, conversations that go around in circles, …
As it becomes more difficult to grab people's attention and focus, meeting and workshop facilitation becomes an essential part of the analyst's toolkit. Whether you are business analyst, product owner, scrum master, user experience designer or customer journey expert, simply getting people to forget about their busy day when they enter your meeting room is key to getting to a valuable result.
Many organisations are experimenting with applying agile techniques. However, without a good understanding of the agile mindset, this often does not lead to the expected results. At the latest BBC Conference, I talked to Kathy Berkidge, who frequently speaks on agile and how it enables good collaboration. She also discusses the relation of agile and mindfulness, which is maybe a bit unexpected but can be a big enabler!
Globalisation enables us to bring the best people from all around the world together virtually to create successful teams. At the same time, even people that work together physically have a lot of virtual interactions. At the latest BBC Conference, I talked to Penny Pullan, author and frequent speaker on facilitation and virtual working, which isn’t all that virtual after all.
Have you ever been in a situation where stakeholders presented you a solution to analyse and get implemented? Where your devotion to your analysis work uncovered more insights on the real need or root cause, and brought up alternative solutions? Where you have been unable to convince your stakeholders hereof and really influence the project’s focus?
Having impact is not only of direct benefit for your organisation, it’s also important to feel valued for your work.
When I recently cut a slice of brown bread for breakfast, I discovered a white blob in the middle. Strange. Yet I ate it, and you know what? I did not die. Seriously, I didn’t even get sick.
We really need to be ok with having more white blobs when innovating.
When you are working in a start-up with a small number of people, you can take decisions quickly, independent of existing products or services, strategies, organisational structures and so on. That’s one of the advantages of being “two kids in a garage”. In theory, you could simulate such an environment in an established organisation. In reality, it proofs difficult to keep corporate interference out of the way.
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.
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.