You Need Desire to Be a Desired BA
There were a few comments on my last blog, Will the Real BA Foundational Skills Please Stand-up, referring to a business analyst’s need to be curious and inquisitive. No one can argue this is a essential trait for a BA. Conventional wisdom says this trait is innate, meaning, you are born with it. I agree 100%. On this subject I hear people say that you are either born with it or you are not, and you can’t teach someone how to be curious and inquisitive. In this I disagree 100%.
Everyone has this trait in them. We are born with curiosity. We learn and grow based on our curiosity. Growing up we ask questions and we explore the unknown to better understand our surroundings. Have you ever met a 4 year old that did not ask “why” until it made sense to them? I have a rule with my kids. If I can’t explain it in five or less “whys”, we “Google” it. This stops me from getting frustrated and saying, “Because I am the father and that’s the way it is!” Because I believe everyone is born with natural curiosity, I believe everyone can be a BA.
You have it in you to be a great BA. The question to ask yourself is “Do you want it?” If you want it, if you have the desire, you will put in the extra effort to do what it takes to be a great BA. If you have the desire you will adapt your approach over time to do what is right for the customer. You’ll question practices that are done just because that is how you or others have been doing it for years. You will become persistent in trying to find out the root cause of the business opportunity or challenge to feed your natural curiosity.
The profession needs more people with desire. There is a lot of talk about BAs not getting the respect we deserve; management does not see the value we bring, yada, yada, yada. We need to remove that talk from our vocabulary. We need to prove our value and earn respect based on our actions.
You are on board and really have the desire, but still struggle with unleashing your natural curiosity. Here are two reasons why your curiosity is not working at its peak performance.
If everyone has the natural curiosity to be a BA, then why are there people that don’t use it? I believe it is due to years and years of being programmed to suppress our natural ability. I am closer to psychic than I am to being a psychiatrist, but I believe all you need to do is reprogram yourself. There were many points in your life where your curiosity was being squashed. I look back at my childhood and for me it came from trying to better understand my religion. When I asked about certain traditions I sometimes received the answer “this is the way it has been done for thousands of years.” Maybe it was my love for Math as a kid. There is no need to question why 2+2=4. That’s the answer. I also remember getting the “because I said so” answer from adults in my life. All of these things suppress our curiosity.
Take a minute and think of your past and see what may have suppressed your curiosity. You need to try bringing it back. You need to try and reprogram yourself to make curiosity part of your routine as a BA. Go out there today and ask that extra why. Remember how it feels as you get to the root cause of the issue. Then keep trying it.
Another reason we lose our natural curiosity is we think we know the answer, so why ask. Many of us move into the BA role because we were subject matter experts on an application or business area. When you are on projects that touch that business area or application you feel you know the answers, so why ask the new subject matter expert you are working with. Remember, now that you are a BA, you are not an SME. The day you switch roles your “SMEness” begins to diminish. As a former SME you do have an advantage. You know the business area and can quickly develop questions to ask the business area. But a big disadvantage is you don’t ask the business the question because you think you know the answer. Ask the questions. You may know many of the answers, and there will be some that surprise you.
The desired BAs of the future ask the extra why. The desired BA is one that is persistent and tries to understand the root cause of the business challenge or opportunity the business is trying address with the project. If you want to be a desired BA, you need the desire to continue driving out your natural curiosity. Our profession needs you.
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Jonathan “Kupe” Kupersmith is Director of Client Solutions, B2T Training and has over 12 years of business analysis experience. He has served as the lead Business Analyst and Project Manager on projects in various industries. He serves as a mentor for business analysis professionals and is a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) through the IIBA and is BA Certified through B2T Training. Kupe is a connector and has a goal in life to meet everyone! Contact Kupe at [email protected].