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Author: Jake Thompson

I have been in the role of business analyst since September 2020. I previously worked in a financial institution's retail banking division following my undergraduate studies and earned my Master in Business Administration (MBA) while doing so. I have learned a plentiful amount while being a BA but also am opening to learning. I strive to take realistic topics and apply them to my role and be able to share that experience with others. In my spare time, books are my incredibly favorite hobby, among traveling, hiking, and occasionally writing.

Read All About It – Why Reading is a Critical Skill in BA

I love reading.

It is to the point of compulsion where I log into my account and sneak in a couple titles
of varying degrees, regardless of what my original intention was. I always mutter a friendly curse
towards the algorithms that market new, old, debut and longstanding authors of novels, novella, and
fantastical stories each time I log in. It is not just limited to online…oh, no, not at all. Traveling, locally,
domestic, or internationally? Same problem. I make it a significant point to dop into any local
bookstore with self-guaranty that I will walk out with, at minimum, one book, genre notwithstanding.

Reading, however, has become so much more than just “getting lost in the story” or falling in love with
characters whom we can only dream to meet, mirror ourselves against or become attached to. It is not
a hobby, it is not just a compulsion, it is not habit. It is something else, something more: a skill. A
critical skill, at that. A skill that, like anything, any one can become proficient, an expert on, but
requires the same thing: practice, practice, practice. While I could spend the time writing this piece on
the top ten books a business analyst should read (and was the original idea for this article) …instead, I
make a proclamation. A quasi-Magna Carta, if you would: all business analysts must take the time in
their schedules to make room for improving this critical and formidable skill.


Today, there are rumors of studies finding that young adults after their high school (post-secondary)
education will never read a book again. It is flabbergasting on one hand, but to lose a critical skill like
reading that is sharpened when you open the cover-to-cover bound print matter (or e-book for you
digital readers), it is breathtaking. We, as business analysts, whether we realize it or not, are
consistently reading. Reading our e-mails, reading our business analyst documentation, reading
requirements. You are reading right now, are you not? That is pending that you continue to read my
piece on this subject matter. We are, in and out of varying intervals and degrees, reading! Some read
faster than others, some take the time to deeply understand and analyze what is on the paper, or page
before us. Aside from this, you are inherently practicing a critical skill in which will only make you
better, as a business analyst.




Google search any reason as to why human beings should read and the results are countless: whether
it be for stress relief, for better memory retention, to prevent disease, it is all relevant. However,
relevancy aside, it becomes relevant to our work. Reading requires us to think, to analyze, to ask
ourselves questions. Is that not what we do now? Think, analyze, ask questions? Of course, overlooking
that I am oversimplifying the business analysis method, reading leads us to business analyzing!

Reading only stands to benefit you to improve in these areas; reading helps establish connections, to
understand concepts. Who does not like conversing in the language of titles, authors and favorite quotes
from that series or book that came out last week, month, year? There once was a video game I played
as a young adult and in the conversation of movies, they spoke about how movies during their time
(when movies/cinema were in their Golden Age), help people out of a bind or jam that they do not
understand. Take out movies/cinema and replace with books/reading, and there you got it.

So, read all about it! And I do not mean that slogan about the latest newspaper (although a reliable
source for information), I truly mean…read all about it. Being able to become a fount of knowledge
and to be able to translate that knowledge into performance as a BA should be your guiding light. As
a business analyst: think about it, analyze it, ask questions about it. Understand it…you will thank
yourself someday

Does Your Personality Define Your Business Analyst Approach?

We all have personality; it is what comprises us as individuals and human beings to present ourselves in our personal and professional lives. Whether our personas experience duality separated by self-promoted boundaries, or the personalities of work and life are balanced as one big personality. But when you reach down into this core sense of self, a philosophical question came to mind when originating this piece: does our personalities define our business analyst approach? It is notwithstanding that I have little to no current, existing or previous knowledge in the realm of psychology, but it is worth chewing on the thought for a minute to examine it from a philosophical perspective. This core question begets more questions:

– If personality does affect the BA approach…then how?
– Is it the way we approach traditional standards or is it the manner of how we execute?
– How do we relate to our stakeholders to elicit requirements, validate them, overcome objections, and comprise the entire business analysis plan?

The unseen correlation between two independent variables became almost dependent immediately upon further self-analysis: personality does define our business analysis approach, right? Generally, speaking, I argue the point that it does. Genuinely think about how you interact with your stakeholders, how you go about performing your day-to-day, and even long-term, duties as a business analyst. Are those not influenced in which your persona, professional, personal, or combined, is presented when doing so?




For example, an extroverted personality with a deep mindfulness to detail would take the time to build the relationship with their stakeholders and those working on a project with them, but in significant detail to ensure nothing is missed. While this can be both beneficial and negative, this is an oversimplified example, of course and does not encapsulate every personality type; and yet it sufficiently illustrates the point made. Think of yourself and how you collaborate with stakeholders: what type of persona are you showing up as?

Applying that personality, however you summarize, influences the approach you have to business analysis. Do you go “by the book” and like to stick to the facts and in a Waterfall methodology? Or do you prefer to have projects take on fluidity and a more Agile perspective? It all boils down to personality…and you, as a business analyst, take the reins to own it. Neither personality nor approach is perfect but understanding this about us as professional individuals working with myriad backgrounds in our line of work, will only tap into our potential.

We may never know the extent of that potential, as there may not be enough time nor resources to perform the adequate studies over multiple fields related to understanding this eccentric analysis. But we can penultimately, begin to understand that in which we personify ourselves as human beings, personifies how we operates in the field of business analysis, and beyond.

Meeting Expectations When It Comes to Meetings

Meetings. The conglomerated work effort to bring about the grouping of individuals to converse and discuss topics of relatable interest at a given point of time. In mere words, meetings are one of the several crutches of work in business analysis that endeavors to accomplishing our goals. Whether you relish them or dread them, meetings are compulsory. Open your calendars and assuredly you will see on a daily or weekly basis that you have a concentrated number of meetings spanning numerous projects. Or, if you are one of the lucky ones, your meetings can be far and few in between. My personal record in the marathon of meetings has been eight meetings in a workday, all different, varying projects and spanning four hours of the day. When I converse with people outside of work and inform them of my longwinded hours of speaking or listening in on meetings, they give me an incredulous look and with care: “How do you get any work done?”

Some of us may admit that we have faced this question and own to some self-truth: we may not be wholly paying attention to the meeting. Answering emails, preparing for the next meeting; perhaps, you stepped out for a quick cup of coffee, with the camera off as a preventive measure. In the virtual world that we found ourselves transitioned to by the public health pandemic that is COVID-19, it has allowed ourselves to grant meeting liberties we would not possess if we were meeting in the office. However, authentically, we should be setting our expectations and meeting them when it comes to these meetings to effectively achieve our objectives. So, when I was posed with this question, I took some time to reflect, and born was this article. How do we meet our expectations when it comes to meetings to make them effective and to get “work done”? For myself, it has become a set of principles to follow as a guideline when it comes to these sessions. These fall into timing, focusing, documenting, and communicating.


There are only so many hours in the working week that we can accomplish what we want to, and it never feels like there is enough time. Meetings can be an impairment to our limited time in the week, miring our stacked to-do list. However, it does not always have to be this way! The first tenet to the meetings is to appropriately time them. Timing with effectiveness is everything when it comes to the foundation of a meeting. Consider, when scheduling one, an honest effort of how much time the meeting should take. If you know it will take an hour, schedule an hour, persist to keeping to an hour, and be pleasantly surprised if your meeting is shorter than anticipated! Timing effectively is not a skill learned overnight; nevertheless, it is one that can be continually improved upon through best practice.

Additionally, focus on meetings comes in two forms: preparation and execution. I have found that being prepared for meetings can strike chords in the efforts of delivering an effective meeting. Rudimentary in nature, necessary by necessity. Know your subject, what your objective is and how you are going to achieve said objective. Execution will then follow shortly thereafter; and keeping your meeting attendees focused is baked into this. Too often, “meeting creep” can set in and suddenly your hand is forced to reschedule or schedule more meetings to impair your effective timing. Avoid the divergence by preparation and keeping on track, for both yourself and attendees.

When it comes to documenting, a wise person in the IT realm when I had been in my secondary education, once told me to “document everything.” At the time, it made no sense. Now, it means truly that: responsibly document everything when it comes to meetings. Whether it be sharing your screen with a running document or the old-fashioned pen and paper, meeting minutes and notes are the core aspect to documenting the action items and deliverables in projects. It serves it’s purpose to be able to say who, when, where, what, why and how someone was able to do something in a project when it was documented during a meeting of said project. One does not, nor must not, transcribe every word; yet glean a holistic enough perspective to highlight the key points with enough information for reference.

The tried-and-true adage that “communication is key,” is not just for relationships in our personal and professional lives. It is true for meetings. The ability to communicate with transparency and effectually is the last rounded effort of the lexicon that promotes a synergized meeting. Go back to your preparation and execution from the “focus” principle and translate that into the communication you are delivering. Instead of meager words forming together sentences that might satisfactorily achieve the objective, aim for the exceeding and deliver on what your best work is each time, and your meetings will thank you.

Meetings. The word may forever be ingrained into our brains as a hallowed term in the business analysis field or ring us full of trepidation. Yet, if we remind ourselves of the tenets homed in on this article, we may find that meetings are not as tripe and dismaying as they are. They are a major source of our work and should be treated no differently than any of our other aspects of efforts. We hold ourselves accountable for the work we deliver as business analysts and the work outputs of meetings are equivalent. Spend the little amount of time it takes to accomplish these items, in no order, and experiment with how much more you can further your meetings. You may find that your work is completed in a timely, or even early, fashion.

Is There Such A Thing as a “Dumb Question”?

“This may sound like a dumb question…but…,” insert question here.

What prompts us to preamble a question with such a statement? We tend to dwell on the fear that asking questions, even the simplest or for clarification can be the inception of negative thought and appearing uneducated to our peers. One of my colleagues when I first began the role of business analysis reassured me that there is “no such thing as a dumb question.” However, I write this piece to dissuade the notion.

Working with myriad stakeholders and colleagues, as business analysts, remaining consistently curious is a fundamental competency to our field. How must we satiate our endless curiosity? Ask questions! As part of the lexicon to being a business analyst, questions are the lifeblood to the capacity of the work we perform. Executing a swift Google search on “how many questions do we ask a day?” the quantitative results for adults are estimated to be averaged at twenty questions per day, whereas children are in the hundreds a day. Hundreds! Notwithstanding those children may have an ulterior agenda to ask numerous questions, whether it be to annoy their parents out of humor or they’re truly curious, the comparison of frequency in questions is staggering. Yet, we focus less on the quantitative nature and more on the qualitative aspects to feeding our inquisitive intellects.


Is there really such a thing as a dumb question? Drum roll, please. The answer is: yes. You may or may not already know the answer, others may not. Questions that are asked for clarification, for understanding, to ask why to ask how? Those are not dumb questions. In fact, I would quantify those in a simple self-designed model of asking questions as baseline questions. Breaking down the model, for business analysis, or even real-world application, questions can be categorized into four different sections, dependent on the question objective. The question objective is the “why” of your question; what you are seeking to accomplish by asking. The dumb questions, in short, are the ones you do not ask. Silence may be golden in some realms, but if you are remaining silent to avoid asking questions to clarify, to gain a deeper understanding, or even to consider another outcome, that is the underlying “dumb question.”

If you refer to Exhibit 1 provided in this article, it pictorially represents my personal model of how one may categorize questions in four different quantifications. These are: great questions, good questions, baseline questions, and dumb questions.

Exhibit 1:

Great questions are the ones we ask to discover new possibilities or outcomes. The trademark piece to being a business analyst via elicitation. These ones may be framed in ways of detailed, technical questions but the objective remains to discover what may be unseen or overlooked. They also require an incredible amount of effort in terms of research and critical thinking. You may be surprised at the sheer volume of information that can be elicited from asking a great question versus some of the others. Great questions are the cornerstone questions for a business analyst.

Good questions are the step below the great questions. These are critical, nonetheless, but have an objective to challenge assumptions, restrictions, or dependencies within projects or the task at hand. These may require an intermediate level of research or critical thinking and forward consideration to come up with. These may be your “why” questions. Much like great questions, the voluminous amount of data by asking good questions can sow benefits to be reaped in business analysis. Good questions can be the framework between the baseline questions and great questions, where the details are in between the lines.

Baseline questions are as the name implies: intended to set the baseline. These are questions that can be asked for clarification or understanding. These are just as important as any of the others and contain significance in the realm of business analysis. Baseline questions give you that foundation that opens the realm to the categories to inquiring more questions. Rest assured, there is absolutely nothing incorrect about asking baseline questions. It may open the door to good or even great questions by asking the most basic baseline question.

The next time you find yourself in a position, as a business analyst, or elsewhere, determining if you should ask the question, follow these steps. First, remember the only dumb question is the one you do not ask. Two, ask the question! Do not let fear or negative emotion impede your learning as a business analyst and the potential to open doors that may have been left untouched. It is not something that can be learned overnight but over time. Even I, myself, am still working to ask questions in my role, baseline, good, or great, and mitigating the dumb question.

In case of emergency of not knowing…just ask!

What Can We Learn from Crime Fiction in Business Analysis?

Crime fiction never sleeps. A mere Google result yields an estimated 25-40% of the fiction genre in print, is attributed to crime fiction novels and novella, yearly. These heavyweight numbers pull no punches when dominating the publishing market and continue to churn out as newcomer and veteran authors delve into this twisty and plot-driven genre. Elsewhere, crime fiction slams the gavel in landmarking the entertainment world, between streaming, regularly scheduled programmed television, even cinema. Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Paramount, Hulu, and the continual alphabet of platforms and movie studios, in their consistent battles of streaming wars, are armed to the teeth with crime fiction remaining a mainstay in their marquee content arsenals.

As we draw out the novice philosophical schemas of “good versus evil”, “crime never pays”, as a business analyst, it is prudent to discover the deeper meaning to be found when you read between the lines. Being in the field of business analysis, I swiftly became cognizant of the ensconced parallels to the realistic work I was taking on, to the fictitious roles I observed in the media mediums I had been consuming. I connected the role of a crime fiction detective to a realistic business analyst. Comparatively, likening my performance to that of taking on cases in the form of projects, occasionally multiple at a time, my goal became synonymous with solving a case. The project is the case and the mystery to solve is how to make said project successful. It became incredulously captivating to think of myself as a detective versus a business analyst and begin to observe the methods as seen on TV or read in books and apply them to my work. Of course, it is without saying that I remain a business analyst and do not self-aggrandize myself to a fictitious character, nor do I claim to know the experience of working in the field of law enforcement, crime, and the like.



Think of some of the critically acclaimed TV shows out in the media: HBO’s The Wire, NBC’s Law and Order. Both of which are fictitious series’ that give us realism of what it is like to be ingrained in the world of crime, law, and law enforcement. However, take away the dramatic elements that make for good television and you get a stripped-down version that provides us certain core concepts to business analysis:

  • Ask questions: Detectives and investigators ask questions to gain information, to elicit leads, to make a break in the case. They are relentless in this practice. They talk to witnesses, colleagues, bosses, citizens, experts…the list goes on. Are we, as BA’s, not the same? Business analysts ask questions of various people to gain information, to elicit solutions, and identify the best outcome to complete their project (aka “solve the case”). Without questions on both career fronts in opposing ends, do they lose out on the objective they so wish to achieve: solving the mystery.
  • Investigate all possible outcomes: Through the commonplace term “police work”, crime fiction utilizes investigatory measures to observe every outcome. They examine patterns, evidence, trends, ask questions. They fiercely formulate hypotheses, postulate outcomes, and supplement their findings. Business analysts parallel these actions. Asking questions leads us to garnering information, making progress on our projects, and creating our own theories. It helps to solve the mystery. It does not mean you need to carry a notebook and jot down interview notes, but it is not a bad idea! Sometimes the best ideas come when we least expect it, and how often do we need to write it down, lest we forget later?
  • Be resilient: The term “hard-boiled” is not just used in breakfast to describe how eggs are made. It can also refer to the manner of how resilient detectives are. They keep shaking the metaphorical tree until something tangible comes out. They are tenaciously relentless in their work and strive to put forth their best effort to solve and make the grade. Shouldn’t business analysts be the same in this regard? As a BA/detective, one should not give up when the project seems to fall off track or when we hit an impasse in our efforts. Rather, we should work to “hard boil” ourselves and push through, for it may be the resiliency that wins the day and makes the project successful. This, by no means, encourages the copious consumption of caffeine and late nights that are often portrayed in crime fiction: know your limit but keep yourself resilient.
  • Follow-through: This is a common mistake that business analysts can make without realizing it. One of which, even I fail at, at times. Observe in some of the crime dramas you watch or fiction you may read on how often that detectives follow through on their leads, with their colleagues, with their bosses. They make the decision but often, they stick with their decision, right or wrong. They vehemently stand by their actions. As BA’s your decision, right, wrong, indifferent and within bounds, be sure to practice the concept of follow through on them. Talk to your own colleagues, bosses, experts and gather up the information you are seeking. Remember to ask questions and stand by what you decide. Learn from the as those we revere to be real and glean from them the power of follow-through.

There you have it: case closed. In the glorified world of crime fiction, we unpack useful key points that, as business analysts, can utilize in the field that mirrors what we see on television. Try this in your business analysis role, and see what comes of it: will you find that your cases (projects) are solved more efficiently, quicker, or with a bit of added flair to make your job more fun? Let me know, I would love to hear how these apply to you! And, if there is anything else that might be learned from crime fiction and crime drama applicable to business analysis, share with myself and others.