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Author: Adam Davies

The 3 Hygiene factors of the Agile Business Analysis

In this article we are going to be hearing from Fred Herzberg, the Wachowski siblings, that other BOK from the Business Architecture Guild, and Ann Landers in an endeavor to identify the prerequisites of agile business analysis.

Recently my colleges and I were having an interesting conversation about how agile should and can change based on the type of product, project, organization or industry that it is being practiced for. 

It sounded like we were making a list of motivating factors for agile in different types of situations and environments, so I asked: “what are universal hygiene factors for the agile business analyst?”

“What’s cleanliness and sanitization got to do with agile business analysis?” I hear you say. I’m glad you asked.

In 1959 Fred Herzberg provided his motivation-hygiene theory, or also known as two-factor theory. In this motivation body of work, Herzberg distinguishes between:

  • Motivators that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth; and
  • Hygiene factors that do not give positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. The term “hygiene” is used in the sense that these are maintenance factors. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.

This motivation theory can be applied to individuals and groups of workers, and I think it can be applied to work approaches and systems. So instead of going through the factors that can help motivate or improve agile business analysis, I want to talk about what has to be present in an organization for it not to fail.

So here we go, the three hygiene factors of business analysis:

There is no Spoon

“Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth…There is no spoon… Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself” (The Matrix 1999)

All good business improvement people are agile in mind, spirit, and action. Without the agility as an attribute of people and groups, agile methodologies and traditions (such as SCRUM) are just another set of processes and artifacts to be followed and produced. Remember agility (including business analysis agility) is the ability to predict, react and adapt, within a given environment to achieve a goal.

The first hygiene factor then is to create a business improvement environment, where people are encouraged to be predictive and adaptive; where managers and leaders share not only information but their power to make decisions, regardless of the project methodology being used.


Goals, Objectives, Strategy… oh my

“…in the absence of a well-defined link to strategic objectives, stakeholder value delivery, and related capabilities results in duplicate, poorly coordinated, and even conflicting initiatives” (BIZBOK Guide v5.5 p198)

If we don’t understand the nature of the enterprise, what our desired outcomes are, where we want to go, it’s unlikely that any results from any project are going to realize the desired ends of the enterprise, including agile projects.

As a rule of thumb, the members of an agile initiative should be able to give a good answer to the following question “what are the strategic objectives that we are contributing to that lead to this bunch of smart dedicated and well-paid humans to participate in this agile project?” If we don’t have a good answer to this question, at best we could get lucky, and at worst we are wasting resources and even risk losing value.

So the second hygiene factor is for enterprises to have a good awareness of themselves, with an unpacked and communicated strategy from executives to projects and operational staff.

Change is good for you! You’re so immature!

“Maturity is the art of living in peace with that which cannot be changed, the courage to change that which should be changed, no matter what it takes, and the wisdom to know the difference” Eppie Lederer (aka Ann Landers)”

We all know and have been told that change is inevitable and good for individuals and organizations. However just focusing the change or project model, such as Agile, does not address how organizations consume and eventually benefit from frequent and in some cases on-going change. Remember Agile teams, that you may love pushing out incremental value in your sprints, but there are some stakeholders who see it as a disruption to ‘real’ work.

The ‘change culture’ of an organization is more than just having the agility attribute in each individual who is a target for change, it’s the organization pulling together the people, processes, information and technology for change as well as ensuring we pursue the right change in the first place.

The third and final hygiene factor is ensuring a fit for purpose change environment and culture. If we can’t manage any change that’s fatal and a quick end to most enterprises. An organization that is engineered for continuous change, may mean a costly and undesirable situation for customers and shareholders.

So that’s it. I hope you got something new from my take on Agile. Remember the shiny aspects of Agile are not enough to motivate business improvement alone.