Author: Tim Hanson

Kindness and Respect Might Be Your Most Valuable Business Analyst Tools

Throughout my years as a Business Analyst, a quote often comes to mind when I walk out of a meeting where some IT person has stomped all over someone’s dignity, sometimes on purpose: “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies–: ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” (Kurt Vonnegut , “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.”)  

In my experience, striving to be kind and respectful outweighs nearly any other skill a BA might posses.

Let me pause here to acknowledge two things: 1) yes, I might be stating the obvious, 2) who am I to tell you that you need to be nice?  I do assume you are nice, to get that out of the way.

However, I have noticed that as we do our thing in the corporate world, we are expected to radiate confidence, to act like we know what we’re doing (particularly when we don’t), to exude a feeling that we are the best damn thing since sliced bread, or at least Orange Julius. This, in theory, supposedly inspires trust in our customers and helps improve interactions with the truly arrogant. While that may be partially true, I think it also comes with the danger that we can inadvertently lapse into seeming arrogance or even apparent indifference to people’s thoughts and feelings. (Note my qualifiers to indicate that this is appearance and not intent.)

How can I make such a claim?  I believe I’ve been guilty of this.

After successfully implementing a robust requirements standards and processes at two companies, I felt as though I had this requirements thing ‘sussed’ out.  In my next position, I picked up where I left off, assuming the new group would just naturally see the inherent value in the processes and definitions that had worked well elsewhere.

Instead, they wanted a requirements process that drew the line between requirements (the what) and design (the how) in a much different place, which I felt ventured too far into design and feared would preclude flexibility in design choices.  

So, I did the wrong thing: the first set of requirements I delivered adhered to what I felt was the better balance, in alignment with what I had d