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What’s Your 2015 Lightbulb Moment?

As the year draws to a close, it seems natural to pause and take a look backwards. Instead of beating ourselves up for the well-intentioned goals we left in the dust somewhere around January 13th, let’s focus on the things we did accomplish, and look towards a new year.

So, in the context of your professional life:

  • What did you learn this year?
  • What new technique did you apply?
  • What challenge did you overcome?
  • What was your 2015 lightbulb moment?

Below, you’ll see my response as well as a few great contributions from my social media community. I hope you’ll consider sharing your answer to one of these questions in the comments below the article!

My 2015 Lightbulb Moment: The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Our field of work is evolving, and it seems like the pace of change increased dramatically in 2015. Consider these events/trends as indicators of change:

  • Expanding definition of agile business analysis
  • IIBA releasing BABOK v3
  • Increased collaboration between BAs and Product Owners
  • Evolving Product Ownership landscape
  • Increased demand for agile BAs
  • PMI marching forward in the business analysis/requirements space
  • Resurgence of user-centered design and design thinking

My learning this year has been focused on these themes and keeping up with how organizations are adapting and changing. Individuals, teams and organizations are understanding these changes and what they mean in a variety of ways!

Related Article: 2015 Trends in Business Analysis and Project Management

This is a lot of change for an industry, and yet so much remains the same:

  • Business analysis is required! It doesn’t matter who does it or what their title is, business analysis is an essential component of effective solution and product delivery. If business analysis doesn’t happen, we build the wrong stuff.
  • Effective business analysis adds and protects value! When organizations make changes, business analysis ensures the solution aligns with the needs of the organization and its customers.
  • Business analysis is still about delivering value through the user, the process, the data, and the rules.
  • The key skills needed to be a great BA (facilitation, communication, negotiation, change management, etc.) still apply!

Align Tactical Effort with Strategic Goals

From Doug Goldberg, @DougGtheBA: BAs must align tactical effort with strategic goals. First step: define business need/problem. Second step: learn business architecture concepts.

Yes! Business architecture is making a more formal appearance in our work. Organizations are seeing the need to connect the architecture to the business analysis and requirements work. This is cool stuff!

And, of course as Doug points out, our work is fruitless if we don’t understand the need first. An early understanding and continuous reminder of “why” helps us stay focused on delivering value. We treat our organization’s money as if it were our own and squeeze every penny out of our solution.

In recent classes, I’ve used the analogy of remodeling your house. If you hand over a large chunk of money to a design/build firm to remodel what would you expect? You would want the team to bring cost/value/time trade off decisions and opportunities to you, right? It’s the same for our sponsors. BAs work with sponsors to align the tactical solution with the sponsor’s strategic goals.


From Tim Kramer, @kramerscycling: In order to be successful the culture needs to change from “Can I do xyz?” to “My intent is to complete xyz.” #Accountability

Intent is everything! And so is delivery! Can we understand our stakeholder’s true intent? NOT what we think they want, NOT what they say they want, but really, truly, undeniably, seek to understand their intent? Yes, we can, and then we need to deliver!


From Ilya M, @Matveyich: Slack is a messaging tool that provides fast and effective collaboration with my team, group discussions, and document sharing. We’ve also integrated product monitoring.

Fast and effective collaboration is a HUGE theme this year! Teams regularly experiment with new tools and processes that boost collaboration and efficiency. We need to bust out of our silos and share information, so we can maximize the value we deliver to our customers.

Tools like Slack, can be a great resource for teams, especially when they can’t be face to face. However, like any virtual communication, be sure you are not relying 100% on text. Get visual, check for understanding frequently, and relentlessly encourage dialog over documentation.

Specification by Example

From Kristen Ericksen: My new go-to technique is specification by example. This technique makes it easy to talk in real terms, makes it easy to see and plug the holes in requirements, and gives the audience just enough to complain about, so I get the REAL requirements.

Yes! This is a great way to engage stakeholders! Examples create context and a common language for stakeholders. The team collaborates to identify examples that spell out what the solution needs to do. Everyone works together to build a shared understanding of the future state. And, as Kirsten points out letting stakeholders vent a bit does build relationships and trust, critical to success with requirements.


Thank you to Doug, Kristen, Ilya and Tim for contributing to this article. Let’s keep the conversation going! Use the comments below to boost our BA community by sharing YOUR favorite technique, tool or lightbulb moment from 2015!