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Passing the Bad Ass BA Baton

In 2009 I started writing the Bad Ass BA articles (2009-2012) as a way to channel my frustration at work. With all the interesting problems and all the intelligent professionals, my impatience with mediocrity drove me to speak out about what we could better. I should say, speak out and act out; writing the Bad Ass BA articles was simply a chronicle of my constructively disruptive, actively resistant activities at work. Each article ended with short bio line about my professional passion, “ … to educate technical and business teams about the role of the business analyst, empower the business analysts themselves with tools, methods, strategies and confidence.” There’s no bad assery in that statement, in fact, as I re-read it now, I wonder, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is how the passion manifests. It is one thing to recognize mediocrity and not be satisfied, it is another to speak truth to power, hold people accountable for their responsibilities and do the heavy lifting to generate alternatives. And it isn’t enough to do this by yourself. The big deal is getting other people involved to help, to do their work differently, to not be afraid to do what needs to be done. The big deal is, to manifest your core BA-ness, your agent of change-ness, and make the world a better place – you have to take a risk.

I haven’t been able to write Bad Ass BA columns for a couple of years primarily due to health. Discovering in middle age that one is allergic to gluten, soy and, because I’m lucky, dairy too, stands your life on its ear. I’m getting better but I need to focus on other things before I can write regularly again. At the 2013 Building Business Capability Conference, Adam Kahn, introduced me to a fellow badass – Bob Prentiss. You may know him as Bob-the-BA, teacher of hundreds of proud CBAPs, and bring-down-the-house conference speaker. What you need to know is, a mutual friend, gave both Bob and me our start speaking at regional conferences back in ancient history. I had been feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing anything with the Bad Ass BA platform, and now here was someone who had a burning flame in his heart to do what I could not. The “Bad Ass BA” moniker needed a new home. 

Over the past few months, Bob and I have been comparing notes on why it is important to us to be a Bad Ass BA. Bob says it beautifully, “give a name to cause, create a purpose in life, give opportunities to people who aren’t quite ready to seize it for themselves”. And what does a bad ass do? “Challenge for the right reasons, call bullshit on entitlement, question doing it because we’ve always done that way, get people to focus on the facts and the objective, set aside their fear-uncertainty and doubt (FUD).” Standing up to mediocrity means taking on risk, and that’s a scary thing to do if you’re a professional person who might be supporting a mortgage and a family. No one wants to find themself suddenly out of a job. Even so, for both Bob and me, because of who we are and how our brains are wired, the drive to make things better is so strong that we will speak out and act out. Bob and I were lime and tequila as we talked about the importance of knowing yourself, being aware of what makes you willing to explore the opportunities for a company, being willing to go where others fear to tread, being conscious of taking calculated risk, being willing and able to take on the big challenge and being determined to get people to walk along side with you. Time to pass the Bad Ass BA “baton”.

So, what is Bob going to do with the badass baton? Bob will be writing, blogging and presenting at conferences, small slices of big truths that represent the characteristics of a Bad Ass BA, and the journey that one can take on their way to becoming one. His message is for all levels of business analysis professionals; “find a better way” applies no matter how many years of experience you have. It is about the journey you take, the skills you acquire, and what you do with them along the way to make a difference. If you are a bad ass wanna-be you’ll find guidance and inspiration. If you are a bad ass already, and ready to take it to the next level, you’ll find validation and encouragement. If you are a kick butt consulting bad ass, you’ll have a reference to give others that will make you look even more brilliant.

Cecilie hopes to be back to writing soon with stories of making a difference in the realm of business analysis and business architecture. Meanwhile it is time to pour gasoline on the fire and give a fireproof cape to Bob Prentiss.

Bob: “Thank you Cecilie! So was I the lime or the tequila? I often think I am the lime, that sour, and sometimes bitter taste that compliments the salt, savory, and sweet. When these ingredients are left on their own, they are disconnected and lack harmony, but when combined together, complete the ingredients for that perfect margarita. One of my favorite Chinese proverbs actually explains my badass BA approach to life: “Eat bitter, taste sweet.” It is a road less traveled for the badass BA; a road of challenge, resiliency, adaptability, and a tenacious drive to make things better. We eat the bitter, taste the sour, we fight resistance, we speak truths, we influence and influence again, and we eventually add the salt, sweet and savory to push projects and organizations in the right direction for the right reasons. As I take up the baton of the bad ass BA from Cecilie’s very capable bad ass hands, I look to share the bitter and sour, share my experiences, failures and successes to help you on your journey to bad ass extraordinaire and of course, your perfect margarita! “

Bob and Cecilie send a beer and a chocolate-covered “thank you” to Adam Kahn.

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About the Authors

Cecilie Hoffman is a Business Architect / Analyst working for a Fortune 100 company in the San Francisco Bay area. Her professional passion is to educate technical and business teams about the power and value of the business analyst role, and empower business analysts themselves with tools, methods, strategies and confidence. Cecilie is a founding member of the IIBA Bay Area (formerly Silicon Valley) chapter. LinkedIn Profile:

Bob the BA provides badass business analysis training, consulting and mentoring services. Bob is passionate about helping you learn differently; so that you can learn new things faster, and put into practice immediately. Bob is CBAP® certified with 25+ years of experience in corporate America; with a background in managing BA centers of excellence, assessing and managing BA maturity, quality, and competency. Bob is the developer of the PMI® 2011 Product of the Year – Project R.E.A.L. (Real Experience; Applied Learning). Bob has presented numerous keynote, workshops, seminars, conferences, and training sessions across North America. Bob is a founding member and past President of the IIBA® MSP Chapter.