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?
- 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.
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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.