Demonstrate the Skill

When you lead by example, you create a picture of what’s possible. – Bruna Martinuzzi

“I have to show you this presentation that one of the Project Managers sent me. Her BA is using it and the leadership really likes it.” Anand, the PMO Director, was collaborating with me on a BA Center of Excellence proposal for the retailer we worked for and knew my keen interest in finding good tools we could adopt.

When I saw the presentation, I was astonished – it was one I had created (informally dubbed “What to Expect when You’re Project-Ing”), a simple two-page template that explains who is going to be involved in the analysis process, what we will be doing, and what we will deliver. I had created it for a project that launched six months prior. I had to wonder – what journey did it take to end up in another BA’s toolkit?

Being the Change

When things are working well, people tend to notice. Order, efficiency, and clarity stand out starkly against the chaotic, disorganized, and confusing situations we often work in. Wrangling chaos into organized, detailed, understandable forms is a fundamental skill of Business Analysis that we can apply in many ways to the small things we can influence and demonstrate how things can be done well.

Have you ever seen an advertisement for something you didn’t know you wanted until you saw it? A simple, clear visual – a journey map, process flow, or prototype – can be enlightening to others, even if they haven’t explicitly asked for one.

 

 

In the case of my “Project-Ing” presentation, I was surprised by the positive reaction I received from stakeholders when I delivered it. I assumed they would be bored by my explanation of the elicitation techniques we would be using and the artifacts we would produce. But like the famous childbirth book with a similar name, no one wants to birth a baby without knowing what they are in for, and it turns out no one wants to birth a project that way either.

Going Viral

Experimenting with new or improved templates and techniques is relatively simple and if people see something they like and that works, sharing it with others is easy. If enough people like the concept, it might even go viral.

In fact, that was exactly what happened with my presentation. One of the directors on my project forwarded the document to a colleague, who showed it to a BA working with her on another project. Then to the PM, the PMO director, and back to me. And possibly others.

A simple, good idea spread with no effort on my part. Compared to trying to dictate a new template through a Center of Excellence, this is an easier and frankly more effective way to convince others to try it. And with grassroots support from others, implementing an official process change is much easier.

Demonstrating Your Skills

Everyone who practices Business Analysis, whatever their title or level of experience, can be an agent of change. There are limitless ways you can use your BA strengths to show others a better way!

A few simple ideas, for starters:

  • Craft a good meeting agenda. This is something everyone wants but few do!
  • Design meetings that have actual purpose and are a good use of time
  • Create an elegant visual to explain a confusing concept
  • Ask “stupid” questions to make sure everyone understand the basics of something complicated, even if you’re the expert on the subject

 

Have you made lasting change in your organization by showing others a better way? I would love to hear your story! Connect with me on LinkedIn and share how you demonstrated your skills!


Laura Fernandes

Laura Fernandes, CBAP, has fifteen years’ experience as a practitioner and people leader in the business analysis profession, working with stakeholders in financial, retail, and logistics environments. Laura has spoken about Business Analysis and process improvement at numerous conferences, including The Path to Agility, BA-CON, the Southwestern Ohio BA Regional Conference, and the Dayton PMI Summit. Her professional goal is to enable talented software development professionals to build the *right* things. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lfernandes-analysis