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Be a Leader; Focus on Change

bealeaderLast week I had lunch with a former co-worker to discuss an improvement plan she was implementing for a team of business analysts.  I told her I would not reveal her name in this blog so let’s call her Wonder BA. Wonder BA is an active reader of this blog, so maybe she’ll chime in with a comment or two on this post and reveal herself. Wonder BA was recently promoted and given the responsibility to lead a BA improvement initiative. As we discussed her approach and things to consider with this initiative, I noticed the conversation did not focus on business analysis. There was little talk about an analysis process, how the BA role was used in their agile environment, or how to organize the BA group. The main focus was on the project team environment, how the team perceived the value of the BA, what their management team wanted to see more of from the BA community, and steps to roll out the BA improvements. It was all about ways to ensure this initiative or more specifically this change initiative would be accepted and adopted in Wonder BA’s organization. We talked about how to assess the change readiness of the organization and the individuals impacted; her thoughts on if the culture in her group was one that will accept and adopt the changes she wanted to implement, and how to motivate the individual BAs to embrace the change.

This got me thinking about the change created with every project we work on.  Too often the project team’s focus is on the features or the new process being implemented as a result of the project. Time is spent worrying about time.  Sleep is lost thinking about ensuring we have the right resources to create the solution.  Once the project rolls to production, the team is happy and moves on to the next round of enhancements.  Teams need to start spending more energy on how to help the users and organization accept and adopt the change created by the project.  Often the business comes to the project team asking for new enhancements or a new application to help them overcome the challenges they face.  But too often, the impact on the business of introducing a new process or application is underestimated. 

As I was writing this blog I called a trusted thought leader in change management, Darshana Patel, change and conflict specialist and founder of SplashMaker LLC.  I asked her opinion on this topic and how BAs can help with adoption. Here is her response:

“With increasing efforts to improve the reliability of project outcomes, a new realization is emerging: a successful project does not equal a successful change.  Project and change are two sides of the same coin.  A project delivered on time, on budget, with targeted scope and quality does not guarantee adoption, institutionalization, and sustainability of the solution.   

With the business analyst positioned closest to the pulse of the people and processes affected by a project, here are five key considerations for the BA in planning for and executing successful change.

  1. How will individuals, groups, and the organization be affected by this project? How do we motivate each level to align with the changes required by the project?
  2. Which levers do we need to adjust: goals, culture, structure, and process to support ongoing adoption? Who needs to be involved to make this happen?
  3. What is the organizational context of this project? What dynamics are at play that may impact the likelihood of success?
  4. Politically speaking, who supports or needs to support this project? Whose lack of support can sink the short or long term viability for success? What information can be provided to influence their position?
  5. Who can we employ as change agents to actively broaden and strengthen the coalition of support? What is the formal and information communication plan to propagate the themes, messages, and ideas that align conversations and people with the project?”

Early in the project, begin to think about the points Darshana raises. You still need to focus on the features and new processes to be implemented. But does any of that matter if the new features and processes are not adopted?  As a BA you are a leader.  By focusing your attention on planning and executing change you will be acting like one.

To change!


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