No Where to Hide, Suckas!

When I speak with many BAs, we laugh and agree that there is nothing more detestable than politics. We have seen SO MANY bad “ego” or “fear” based decisions instead of “fact” or “opportunity” based decisions that we rightly do not admire what people call politics.

For those who want to explore the full depth of “political evil”, I offer the following link – http://the-redpill.blogspot.com/2009/04/art-of-politics-10-methods-to-obfuscate.html – not very scholarly, but very illuminating. This article is a pretty good summation of the forces resisting positive change, and the sorts of dirty tricks that many use.

For those who want to know what to do about negative politics, I say simply – become a master positive politician, or hook up with one (a master political act in its own right!).

Even as an amateur politician, I have enjoyed huge (in spite of high risk and low probability) successes. Now I realize that no one can be a senior BA without practicing politics. If you think you can, it only means that you are merely a technician (not a leader) OR you have a master politician backing you and you don’t even know it – wake up!

I leave the “dirty tricks” to others – let’s look at the “clean tricks” in politics.

The essence of politics (and human society) is STORY. Become a storyteller, give people a plot, a crisis, a villain, a hero and a twist and climax to strive for.

Political Clean Trick # 1

The best I ever participated in was a huge COBOL to on-line real time system conversion (the name of the client remains mine to know, of course). In spite of the fact that the employees of the client spent vast amounts of time writing duplicate data in forms, instead of doing their primary jobs (finding significant data), the employee’s union was dead set against the new system. This had gone on for years (don’t laugh – the client bought a new phone switch, and the union forced them to store it for four years during negotiations on its use).

The “plot” of the story that was used was quite brilliant – the COBOL system must be replaced, because of Y2K (the crisis). The villain was the stupidity of technology itself.

The “heroes” were the employees, who knew best, and would be allowed to continue filling out paper forms – just like daddy and mommy did – and would not be required to use he new system (a $15,000,000 investment, by the way).

The twist was that, since the employees knew best, we engaged a number of the best employees in advising us about the requirements for any new system (darnnY2K, what are you gonna do?), and we made sure that they saw ALL developing screens, and that their input was eagerly engaged, and a majority of their suggestions were implemented.

The climax was (and this was planned all along, and much supported by management, the true powers in the process) that the new system was so excellent, and so fun, and so productive for the employees (unlike the old system), that even though they were not required to use it, they just wanted to.

Again, without force, the employees (especially early adopters, who got promotions, lots of attention, and/or improved duties if they wanted them) were the heroes.

After three years of the new system, the employee’s union agreed that it was a fait accompli, and a desirable addition to their profession, and that they would not fight it anymore. The last “non-users” of the new system retired several years ago, and now if you try to change the new system, people complain.

Political Clean Trick # 2

Hey, 500 words at a time! This is only a blog, and free besides J.

If you really want to know, what’s it worth to you? Is it worth enough to read this blog next month? Is it worth enough to question your attitude about politics, and learn something different? Is it worth enough to tell us one of your own stories, in return for picking my brain? I promise if you stay tuned, that # 2 is worth its wait in gold.

Have fun, and I look forward to your questions and comments.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below


Marcos Ferrer, CBAP has over 20 years experience in the practice of business analysis and the application of Information Technology for process improvement. While still a student at the University of Chicago, he developed a consulting practice with local property management and accounting firms. Following graduation in 1983, Mr. Ferrer joined IBM in Chicago, where he worked on requirements and systems implementations in diverse industries. In 1990, Mr. Ferrer became an independent consultant, again working with a variety of clients in the family entertainment industry and then for 10 years at the U.S. Department of Labor, converting legacy COBOL systems into real time client server systems. His recent projects include working requirements for the Veteran’s Administration, introducing BA practices at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and creating bowling industry models for NRG Bowl LLC. In November 2006, Marcos Ferrer became one of the first 18 CBAPs certified by the IIBA. He has served as an elected member of the DC-Metro chapter of the IIBA, most recently as President, and assisted in the writing of the BOK 2.0 test.