5 Things the Legendary Musician and Artist Prince Can Teach Us
When I sat down in a Canadian hotel room to write this article for BATimes, I had a completely different topic in mind—a rant about the length of TSA pre-check lines and how bad processes make life miserable for users. But as I was writing, I became more and more distracted by the news of Prince’s death. Social media started blowing up with Prince memories, pictures of buildings and monuments bathed in purple lights, and videos of spontaneous tribute parties in front of Prince’s Paisley Park headquarters and First Ave, one of Prince’s favorite clubs in Minneapolis.
As a legendary musician and artist, Prince influenced my life in many ways.
Minneapolis is my hometown, and it’s where Prince grew up and lived most of his life. When I was a kid, purple was my favorite color. Raspberry Beret was like a theme song for recess in elementary school—I sang it non-stop with friends on the playground. Purple Rain was one of the first movies I saw in a theater, and I grew up wondering what 1999 would be like.
It may seem like a stretch to use Prince’s approach to music and life as a metaphor for business analysis, but creative genius is universal and can inform our approach to all areas of life, including project work.
So, in tribute to Prince, here are five things BAs (and all people?) can learn from Prince’s legacy.
1) Be unique in expressing your talent, blaze a trail!
Prince blazed a trail of creativity and innovation. He released 39 albums in his 37-year career and is rumored to have several hundred additional songs in his Paisley Park vault. At the same time, he lived in Minnesota, not California. He didn’t swear. He wore heels. He was often seen riding a bicycle through his neighborhood and enjoyed ping-pong.
What would the BA equivalent of this career path look like? How could BAs use their analytical, creative, empathetic, and relationship-oriented talents to generate volumes of innovative work in an authentic way?
We have this awesome role we provide to organizations that can be uniquely executed and performed in our own individual style and personality with success! Embrace it, go with it! Know your mission as a BA and live it!
2) Unleash creativity.
Prince was a master of unleashing creativity in himself and others. He was passionate about collaborating with others to discover new sounds and create new music.
As BAs, we are called to model creativity in our approach and to inspire others to be creative as well. Creativity takes many forms in our work including:
- Building strong relationships with stakeholders.
- Identifying and applying the right technique to elicit effective requirements.
- Utilizing techniques that create a collaborative culture that encourages good dialogue from all perspectives.
- Using advanced facilitation skills to help others find innovative solutions to problems.
- Mastering analysis techniques that help others make good decisions.
3) Create for everyone!
Just as Prince’s music resonated with multiple types of audiences, so should our requirements. Our work as BAs requires us to create and facilitate for multiple audiences and diverse stakeholders. We are masters of catering to multiple audiences:
- introverts and extroverts
- technical and non-technical
- leaders and subject matter experts
4) Surrender to your art.
The sheer volume and variety of work Prince produced indicates an all-consuming passion and commitment to his craft.
What would our BA work look like if we approached it as an art? What would it mean to surrender to our art as BAs? Perhaps we would:
- Be more confident in our role and mission.
- Advocate for the strategic importance of our role.
- Define a unique approach for each project/situation rather than complying with cultural norms or taking direction that might not benefit the organization or the end customers.
- We would hone our craft by finding mentors and collaborating with peers to learn new skills and techniques.
Remember the vault with hundreds of unreleased songs? Prince never stopped experimenting. Prince hosted surprise concerts all the time. He would just jam and experiment, inviting others to participate and react.
Experimenting with technique is critical to mastering our BA craft as well. We experiment to learn. We try new things to see how they feel and to see how our stakeholders react. We apply new techniques to deliver and drive value to our organization and its customers. We try new things even though we might fail and we learn and adapt when our experiments don’t yield expected results.
Prince inspires by being himself and bringing so many together. How has Prince inspired you? Please leave your comments below.