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20-20 Vision

I have always been intrigued by the organizational structure based on two reporting hierarchies, in which each employee has an “HR” manager and a “business” manager.  While I do not claim to understand all of the implications of such an arrangement, I did work very closely with a client using that structure, and a couple of dynamics were very clear:

  1. The business managers are able to really focus on vision, strategy, and execution
  2. Employees in general had a keen sense of ownership of their own careers and roles in the organization, supported enthusiastically by their HR managers

No doubt you have heard (and even harrumphed yourself in a fit of frustration) the adage “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”.  Though this is taken as a comment on quality (“done right”), I think it is more a comment on fulfillment of vision.  This is why the BA and his or her elicitation, analysis and documentation skills are so valuable – they are about extracting, reconciling, and revealing the stakeholders’ vision.

It is the dual-hierarchy management model I observed that prompted me to wonder: Is it not the case, axiomatically, that the business manager (the role, not the person) really is the business analyst?  Well, maybe that’s putting it too strongly.  But what if, by design, business managers were also business analysts?  It is common practice for the business manager, who is accountable for business results, to envision the to-be state and then delegate the business case development to a BA.  Imagine the efficiency to be gained if the business manager was also the BA – and what that means in terms of the potential for fulfillment of vision?

It seems the dual-hierarchy organization implicitly embraces the value and importance of the Business Analyst.  I wonder too whether there are other organizational idioms that give the BA role the space it needs.

Have you had experience with the dual-hierarchy management approach, or for that matter with other organizational design elements that are explicitly favorable to the practice of BA?