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.
Both during the presentations and the networking (no, that’s not an ugly thing for BAs!), I noticed how many people feel they could have more impact. Well, the opportunities to participate in a way we believe is right are nowhere. You read that right: now-here, the opportunities are now, here. But you have to look for them and be open to them. It may require you to leave your comfort zone, but it will allow you to work on your business instead of only in your business. You may get a negative reaction, but you probably will not get fired for it. With a little bit of luck, having the confidence to ask or try may very well put you on a new track with your stakeholders.
To have a real impact, you also need to have the confidence to challenge. Still far too many projects are moving towards an unclear or too specific goal. A goal that is too vague, like improve customer experience, does not guide the project in any way. What aspect of the customer experience do we need to improve? For example, do you need to improve the solution, or the way the solution is delivered (which is of equal importance for the customer’s perception)?
On the other side of the spectrum, we have goals that are actually specific solutions. Is the proposed solution the best one? Is delivering this solution going to make a real change? It’s a conversation you really need to have with your stakeholders as part of your BA work. Without this conversation, you’re stuck in the order taker role, while you could be driving projects forward as a facilitator.
This challenging has to be done in a respectful and engaging way. Be in the room when talking to your stakeholders. Don’t think about all the other stuff you have to do or people you want to talk to later, but really listen and make sure you understand your stakeholder’s reasoning. Connect with this when you explain your ideas. Don’t just stick to the hard facts and figures, but create an engaging story. For example: don’t simply show an updated process model or solution architecture, but tell how a customer will experience buying and using a product when this new process or solution is in place.
BA is not for BAs
Such conversations require preparation beyond the pure analysis work. You need to think up front about what you want your stakeholder to do afterwards. Every story needs a hero, so be sure to let your stakeholder be that hero, by showing his role in the new process or solution (to continue the example) and how this will improve the customer experience.
This requires you, as a BA, to think differently about your deliverables. Your visuals and documents should be actionable for your audience, your customers. You are not be creating these artefacts to be put on the shelf for other BAs to read. You should be co-creating them with your stakeholders in order to make them act, to make them see things in a different way. Make sure your deliverables and your process to create them express this. Because that’s when the magic will happen, that’s when opportunity becomes reality.
Which opportunity are you grabbing to make a difference?
- Business Analysis Conference Europe 2016 website
- #BA2016 on Twitter (Note that the Business Analytics event also uses this hashtag.)