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Verify, Validate, De-Vaticanate. The Pope as Change Agent

ferrer March3

Who’d of thunk it? The Pope’s New Year speech offers insight into issues that affect MANY organizations. This courageous leader gave a list of fifteen sicknesses inflicting the Vatican organization.

This month I picked a few of these Vatican issues to discuss. I chose those that resonate loudest with the challenges facing transformational leaders working with “entrenched” dysfunctions. When such leaders clear the way, business analysis can help. Without such leadership, business analysis can only reveal what is “sick”, with no power to “heal.

To help relate the very Catholic analysis to secular organizations I have inserted suggested “secular” word changes in angle brackets .

How many of these are impacting your ability to perform the BA role? How many of these are “sins” of your own?

Pope says beware of:

The sickness of feeling oneself “immortal,” “immune” or in fact “indispensable,” neglecting the necessary and usual controls. A Curia that does not criticize itself, which does not update itself, which does not seek to improve itself is a sick body…It is the sickness… also of those who transform themselves into bosses and feel themselves superior to all and not at the service of all. 

As BAs we must be aware of the “requirements risk” of trying to satisfy stakeholders when business leadership is too busy, too important or too judgmental to participate. There are no business needs where leadership is missing or (worse) serving itself instead of the common good. Such environments will tend to focus on stakeholder wants.

Analysis becomes politi-technical (“can we make what the most powerful stakeholders want and not be blamed by the others?”). Business Analysis (“can we advance business goals and objectives with solution changes”) is no longer in play as a guiding pattern.

This is OK if we are changing systems that already serve our mission and need minor improvements. It is not OK when enterprise level transformations are in play. Consider the difference between the following two exchanges:

Exchange 1 (small):

Stakeholder: I want to have ice cream anywhere all the time.
Analyst: Here is a little ice cream that IT made just for us.
Stakeholder: Nice.

Exchange 2 (enterprise):

Stakeholder: I want everyone to eat ice cream everywhere all the time.
Analyst: Here is a little ice cream that IT made to help users imagine the actual dessert that would work for them.
Stakeholder: We can’t let them try it – they will just complain. Give me that serving of ice cream to critique, and then I expect you to produce the rest ASAP.
Analyst: Not so nice.

Pope’s antidote:

The antidote to this epidemic is the grace to see ourselves as sinners and to say with all our heart: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” <”please work with us to be better”> (Luke 17:10).

BABOK antidote:

Step up and “serve from behind”. If there is NO leadership at all (rare, but some “leaders” will command a project then disappear) then just pick up a broom and try to clear some space for a meeting. If there is little or no leadership from above (more common) then do your best to analyze and represent the wants expressed – to communicate IS our duty.

Pope says beware of:

…The sickness of mental and spiritual “petrification (sic)”: namely those who have a heart of stone and a “stiff-neck” (Acts 7:51-60); those that, along the way, lose interior serenity, vivacity and daring and hide themselves under papers becoming “practice machines” and not “men of God” (Cf. Hebrews 3:12).

As BAs we must be aware that physical cogs cannot change (design changes, cogs follow), and humans that have found cog-hood don’t want to change. BABOK 1.6 listed “Sales” as a key BA skill. BABOK 2.0 dropped “Sales” in favor of influencing. Same thing.

Pope’s antidote:

“Don’t be petrified, ask Jesus to help un-petrify yourself” and/or “you are fired” (I am guessing, Francis didn’t say).

BABOK antidote:

If you are not practicing sales skills you should practice ducking and bobbing. Try to help stakeholders find “what is in it for them” if they want anything at all. If you are really good at sales you can earn a lot more in sales (or as CEO) instead of as BA. BABOK is at a disadvantage to Jesus, who could move people with pure love and miracles, at least in His domain. IT projects; I am not so sure WWJD.

There is more from Francis, but not this month. What spirituality helps get you through your BA? Let us know in the comments below.

Have fun, try to laugh and remember – the Pope needs BAs too 🙂

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.