If you want to excel in your role, you can't work 9-5 with an hour lunch and two 15 minute breaks. When business analysis is all or part of your job you don’t clock in and out. You can’t stop thinking about things when you are not at work. Many people are attracted to business analysis because there is an element of art and science. It is the art that makes your role nothing close to a 9-5 job.
Being an artist means being creative. You need creativity to figure out how to engage the necessary people to accomplish your team’s goals. You don't work with robots, so every project, every week, every day your team members have different attitudes and different motivation. That means you consistently have to adjust how you interact with them. You and your team has to be creative to take an idea and break it down enough, just to build it back up into a solution. This creativity does not happen in a one hour meeting. You need to have meetings where creativity is happening, and then give yourself and others time to think. You have been in those meetings where people can’t make decisions or just don’t feel great about the results. This is when you have to step away and give yourself and others time to reflect. So when does this reflection happen? You are in meetings all day or have other tasks that fill your plate, right? Your thinking has to come while walking from one meeting to the next, it has to come during lunch, during your ride to work and home, and while you are getting ready for work. When I entered in the BA space I realized this and started keeping notepads all over my house and in my briefcase. When you start thinking outside of the 9-5 window ideas hit you when they hit you. (The idea for this blog hit me while I was online waiting to go into a Bruce Springsteen concert!) They don't wait until you are at your desk. You need to have a system for capturing these ideas so you don't forget. Allow others to share ideas with you outside of the prescribed meeting times to talk about the subject. To be successful you need to be creative and you need to spark creativity. When you have a complex scenario and need a decision, don’t wait until the last minute to get the team together to come up with ideas. When pushed for time creativity subsides and people go back to doing what they know. Know when decisions need to be made and work backwards to ensure enough time is given to maximize creativity.
In addition, part of your professional development has to come outside of the 9-5 timeslot as well. Like an artist you are paid for results. My kids are in a band. No one pays them to practice. Does an author get paid for a first draft or do they get paid to do the research to write a book? You get paid for results and expected to deliver at a high-level. Yes, your employer most likely pays for some training and development and gives you time during the work day. This is most likely not enough. You also need to invest time in your development. That means using lunch time, evenings or weekends. You can meet with a mentor, attend a webinar, and go to an IIBA or other professional organization meeting. Instead of reading a novel before bed, pick up a Business Analysis related book. While drinking your coffee in the morning connect with and learn from others on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Read a blog or download a whitepaper. Get in the habit of continuous learning. Keeping your mind fit is the same as your body. You don’t go to the gym for a week once a year to stay healthy. You go 3, 4, or 5 times a week for 30-60 minutes. The same applies for your professional development. Do something every day.
There is a need for balance. You have to rest your mind. You can’t always be thinking about your job and how to improve. I’m not talking about dedicating yourself fully, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the same time you can’t just think about work or focus on your development between 9 and 5. You should always have an open mind. When you have conversations with your friends, something they say can give you an idea on how to improve your work. While watching TV or a movie something may spark an idea for your project. Your work is not something that is on or off. When it is not your main focus it still needs to be running in the background.
All the best,
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