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Tag: Change Management

Observation of Business Analysis Events in Covid-19 Time

If you use “Business Analyst” as the key word to search people living in Australia on LinkedIn, there are about 325, 000 results.

(1) This is the indication of the scale of BAs (business analysts) Down Under, many of whom have a need to attend professional development events from time to time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption, there are a few emerging challenges to the organization of BA events in Australia:

  •      Government restrictions on public gathering

In New South Wales, the number of persons allowed on premises is no more than 20 to ensure there is at least 4 square metres of space for each person on the premises. (2)

In Victoria, Stay at Home restrictions apply for residents in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. (3)

The traditional form of hosting events in an indoor venue is no longer feasible under the current climate.

  •      Loss/reduction of employment in workforce

In Australia, there were huge job losses of 594, 300 jobs in the month of April 2020, (4) while total job vacancies in May 2020 were 129,100, a decrease of 43.2% from February 2020. (5) The same group of people who attended BA events before the pandemic are not immune from this catastrophic job market volatility, and will likely to attend events less often if they job is impacted.

  •      Work-from-home new norm

Working from home becomes the new norm for IT industries in Australia.

As a result, face-to-face BA events are most likely converted to online events where possible, if not cancelled. Being a proactive member of the BA community, I have been both attending and organising BA events before Covid-19 outbreak. Here are my observations of the trends on physical and online events after the pandemic:

1) Cost

Physical Events

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to organising a physical event. Venue hire is normally the biggest overhead, followed by catering. For a standard 90-minute event, speaker fee varies between 0 to AUD 1000, with a lot of speakers generally offer their time for free. Depending on if there are volunteers for onsite support, this may be another cost.

Online Events

The cost structure of online events is quite different to physical ones. Online platform cost is the main one, plus online admin & support if you cannot do it yourself. Speaker fee is on more concessional terms than physical events, as the speakers have no need to travel to the venue.

2) Revenue

The income streams for both physical and online events are the same: admission fee and sponsorship.

The unit admission fee is lower for online than physical events. However, the target customer base for online events may be bigger than physical events.

The sponsorship fee, as always, depends on value proposition and negotiation.


3) Decision to attend

Physical Events

The most important matters when I consider if I come to a physical event are the topic of the event and the venue location. Networking opportunities are very attractive to people who have social or career needs. Time and date are also important, that’s why most regular physical events are done on a weekday evening.

Online Events

Considering the virtual nature of online events, there are only 2 aspects for decision making: the topic of the event and the time and date.

The big game changer is that an online event can now target geographically diverse participants. Also people have greater flexibility in arranging their work time during this Covid-19 situation, which means more timeslots have become viable for online events than they used to do.

Impacting Factors

Physical Events

Physical Events (Covid-19 lockdown)

Online Events

Online Events (Covid-19 lockdown)






Revenue – Admission





Revenue – Sponsorship





Venue Location





Networking Opportunities





Time and Date





Interest in attending





Participant Concentration





4) Challenges and Opportunities


Compare to traditional physical events, online BA events are encountering the following challenges:

  •      Less interest in attending – loss/reduction of employment, financial uncertainty, less disposable spending
  •      Lower admission fee
  •      Ticket pre-sale is hard to manage
  •      Significant change in networking opportunity
  •      Shorter concentration time

Paying attention without getting distracted is a big challenge.

Less viability for longer (e.g., all-day) events.

  •      New investment in online event-hosting capability


Administration: Make-or-buy decision – upskill your team or outsourcing to online experts

  •      Disrupted sponsorship model

No more coffee pads, lanyards, etc.

Less interest from businesses

Businesses suffering financial loss and uncertainty.


As the other side of the coin, the online events have a few new advantages:

  •      Access to geographically diverse speakers
  • Access to geographically diverse participants – everyone’s “home team”, especially for:
    1.      Rural
    2.      Interstate
    3.      Global
    4.      People with disability
  •      Removal of venue hire and catering cost
  •      Easy setup of interactive questions on the spot
  •      Access to Youtube-like business models
  • Scalable
    1.      You can adjust venue capacity as you go. No need to find a new venue/room.
  • Events data available right after completion
    1.      Attend/Registration ratio, satisfaction voting on completion, etc

5) Outlook

Before vast majority population in the world are vaccinated, the post-Covid or Covid-normal era is here to stay. With the trend of easing of restrictions in most countries, physical BA events will eventually have its fair share back, as there are benefits of physical events that cannot be backfilled by virtual events. Virtual events, however, will grow its penetration rate without cannibalising into the traditional physical events. Overall BA professionals are likely to spend more time in professional development, thanks to more varieties of BA events on offer. We as the BAs have curious minds and will embrace the chances, as “the only thing constant is change itself”.


  1.      LinkedIn,
  2.      Department of Health, State Government of New South Wales, Australia,
  3.      Department of Health and Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia,
  4.      “Australia just lost 600,000 jobs. Economists warn the reality behind that figure is much worse”, Business Insider,
  5.      “6354.0 – Job Vacancies, Australia, May 2020”, the Australian Bureau of Statistics,

Change Resistance: 3 Types Of No

People say ‘no’ to us all the time. This can seem very final, a total unwillingness to engage.


Understanding which type of ‘no’ we are hearing can help us to avoid labelling people as ‘resistant to change’, and promote more effective engagement.

Resistant To Change

Change professionals can forget how hard it is to change. Organisations enter into seemingly un-ending change programmes, restructures and transformations. For those whose job is not part of this change industry, all of these well-intentioned initiatives feel like a distraction from ‘real’ business objectives and personal goals. So, as change professionals, we hear ‘no’ a lot. It comes it lots of forms such as “No one is able to attend that workshop”, “It is not possible to release anyone for the project team” and “We’re too busy”.

It is not possible to conduct business analysis or achieve any kind of change without other people. We need their input, we need to ask questions, we need them to engage. When they are unwilling, we can be quick to label them as ‘resistant to change’.

The Three Types Of ‘No’

People often avoid actually saying no, and they certainly avoid giving their real reasons and motivation for doing so.


I Can’t

This usually comes down to either capability or capacity. I can’t help you because:

  •     I don’t know how
  •     I don’t have time
  •     I don’t have anyone available
  •     I don’t have the tools/knowledge/data required
  •     I don’t have the budget

This can be a helpful type of no, because it may reveal incorrect assumptions or the lack of knowledge or resources. It may also provide sign-posting to the best-next-step or person who does have what is needed. If there is willingness to help, but practical issues make it a ‘no’… this can be useful too. Creating a conversation which adds “yet” to the and of all the above statements changes the narrative. It becomes a discussion about planning: obtaining funds or resources, scheduling work, obtaining information.

I’m Not Allowed

There may be real or perceived barriers to saying yes – in the form of ‘permission’ concerns.


This can include:

  •     That’s not part of my role/job description
  •     My manager doesn’t want me to
  •     I don’t have access/authorisation

These types of restriction may be real – in which they can be investigated and challenged to understand if they are still relevant or a product of historic decisions, assumptions and preconceptions. If they are perceived limitations, they can also be explored and challenged. Again, if there is a willingness to help many of these blockers can be overcome, the first hurdle is to identify them!

I Won’t

The trickiest type of no is one which is underpinned by unwillingness to help. This can be fuelled by issues such as:

  •     I don’t want too
  •     I don’t agree
  •     I don’t like you/the project/the work

Control is a major factor in whether we enjoy our work or not. People sometimes refuse to engage in one area as a reaction to a lack of control in another. Change initiatives often see education about the change as the way to overcome resistance. “Sell the benefits!”, “Explain what’s in it for them!”…

Listening rather than telling may be the best way forward from an “I won’t”. Be genuinely curious, try to see their perspective and try to address concerns and barriers. Not everyone will be convinced or motivated to be involved. Decided how much time and energy can by spent on one person.

One ‘No’ Disguised As Another

The most socially acceptable and ubiquitous type of no is “I am too busy”. This is an “I can’t” statement. When we reframe this as a question of priority as opposed to time, it can help to move the conversation forward – however “too busy” maybe a stalling tactic, where the underlying no is really: I won’t.

If attempts at tacking the question of priority, and addressing potential scheduling options do not work, then the underlying cause is not really time. Handling this honestly and openly, looking for the common ground or areas of potential compromise may help. If all else fails consider escalating appropriately, but this should not be the first thought.


For people to say “yes” to our many requests for input and engagement they need three things: capability, capacity and motivation.

Appropriate and proactive training and development, planning, and communication clearly have significant roles to play in ensuring these three things are in place. However, at a human and day to day level, we can all try to understand the “no” we are hearing, and work with that person professionally and compassionately to achieve the best outcomes for our organisations.

A Psychology Tool for the High Performing Business Consultant

As we know, the Johari window was created by leading psychologists in 1955 as a technique to help people develop a better grip on their relationships with themselves and others.

The concept is simple and intuitive & this article attempts at narrating the view through the eyes of a high performing project Business Analyst/Consultant. The author is inspired by the overarching Blue Ocean Strategy Philosophy of applying learnings from across domains to create unique perspectives; in this instance a classic psychology tool is taken up in fresh Business analysis & consulting domain.

The objective is to trigger unprecedented research and appreciation that can be developed to a powerful perspective tool in the leadership journey of a consulting practitioner. At the least the view will help develop a constructive & compassionate perspective to acknowledge the known and an appreciative curiosity to respect the unknown!
The Johari Kaleidoscope opens to four dimensions:-

  • Area1:Aspects known to both BA/Project and the World (PUBLIC/KNOWN)
  • Area2: Aspects known to stakeholders/world but unknown to BA/project (BLIND)
  • Area3:Aspects known to BA/project but unknown to stakeholders/world (HIDDEN)
  • Area4:Aspects unknown to both BA/project and stakeholders/world (UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS)

It is worthwhile to note that this view, like that through a Kaleidoscope, constantly changes with requirements shifting between the four quadrants throughout the life cycle of the project! At times it is the Business consultant/analyst’s conscious attempts that shift the quadrants (e.g. a robust stakeholder interview unravels an unstated need and moves it from quadrant 2 to 1!) & sometimes the shift happens through factors beyond the control of project/BA. (E.g. /project decides to drop a requirement but it is yet to be socialised with key stakeholder, a shift from quadrant 1 to hidden quadrant 3)

Let us now dive deeper into interesting insights derived out of the four quadrants,

Quadrant 1: PUBLIC/KNOWN

Quadrant 1 is the “visible to all “quadrant containing entities–that are freely and openly available for verification to the project as well its stakeholders. It is expected that this quadrant will manage 80-90% of requirements in the peak phase. In other words, this quadrant initially exposes just a bit of the whole truth to the curious BA! A Business Consultant starts the journey of acknowledging the knowns and appreciating the unknowns at this juncture.

BA Dec23 2020 1

While this may sound the easiest quadrant of requirements for a Consultant to deal with, the quadrant poses its own unique challenges/expectations:-

  • Alignment: These “knowns” can be leveraged to seek the much required Alignment early on in the project. Often these are the “ice-breakers” that can precede critical requirement elicitation. As the information is readily known and easily verifiable – it is absolutely essential that the Business Consultant focuses on the accuracy and coverage. This is the quadrant of quick wins with accompanying celebrations and trust building – if all goes right. But all the same is one of quick disasters if the obvious is ignored. ! The Business Consultant makes a strong head start into his journey of exploration leveraging the consensus around quadrant1 aspects.
  • Trust Build: This is the quadrant of leverage to build trust. In communication around requirements, Business Consultant could use this quadrant to reiterate the knowns and build a strong foundation of trust As most people don’t like surprises a diligent Business Consultant would ensure items are prioritised such that elements of Quadrant 1 form the glue that is required to bind conversations together.
  • High Cost of Failure: This quadrant has the highest cost of failure in my view as these requirements form the very basis of constructing a robust business requirement pyramid. A failure at this layer could cascade to gross lack of trust and resentment from stakeholders and ultimately affect the downfall of the entire pyramid of trust.

Area 2: BLIND

In my view this is the “thinking” quadrant for the consultant! This quadrant has aspects not known to the consultant//project but known to the world/stakeholders. During structured and unstructured elicitation, the Business Consultant has to uncover these unstated requirements and shift them to quadrant 1 to manage them effectively. Fortunately there are tools and techniques available to help deal with this:-

  • Appreciative Inquiry

This is a technique widely used in Organisation research consulting paradigms, and in my view, a perfect tool for a Business Consultant to unravel facts and requirements, not so apparent to the naked eye! In short terms Appreciative Inquiry or better known as “AI”, is to weave in conversations that focus on strengths ( not weakness) and possibility thinking( not problem thinking) that travels through the 4-D cycle – Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny. The key trait in this approach is consultative collaboration and imaginative exploration that helps shift the aspects yet unknown to the Business Consultant from quadrant 2 towards more manageable quadrant1.


  • Collaborative Games & Business Model Canvasing(BMC)
    [(Introduced in BABOK V3 along with other 15 new techniques]

Collaborative game is a technique inspired by game play for the adept facilitator BA, as part of the elicitation activity, to collaborate in building a joint understanding of a problem or a solution. The BMC is a visual depiction of enterprise value creation (how value is created, delivered and captured). A combination of these two techniques could help the enterprise Business Consultant to accentuate the spirit of consultation, collaboration and co-creation required to uncover treasures (aka requirements, facts) in other quadrants(quadrants 2,3 and 4) and shift to quadrant 1 and baseline .

These Techniques present favourable group dynamics whereby astute consultant extracts information by opening hitherto closed mind doors (Elicitation) and also dig within and reveal information of interest to the stakeholders (Excavation). Together the group explores aspects yet unknown to both project and stakeholders and discovers items to be shifted to quadrant 1. (Exploration). Once the requirements /facts are brought over to quadrant 1 the Business Consultant establishes alignment and baseline such information. (Establish)

BA Dec23 2020 2

Diagram2 Note: Above 4E- model (Elicitation, Excavation, Exploration and Establish) is purely author’s hypothesis framework built over Johari window and not traced to any available research. Interested researchers feel free to extend my framework; appreciate siting this original article reference though.
These techniques are applicable to below quadrants as well. At the end of an engaging workshop deploying such techniques it is not unusual that quadrants 2/3/4 shrink as the outlets depicted above floods qudrant1

Area 3: HIDDEN

Quadrant 3 is the “Challenge “quadrant in many aspects. This quadrant contains information /requirements (stated/unstated), risks, challenges, assumptions etc. known to the consultant/project but not yet revealed to the world/stakeholders deliberately or unknowingly. The “Challenge” comes from the extreme demand of Mindfulness and Integrity from Business Consultant to differentiate between the two scenarios and act accordingly. While project confidential or trivial information need not be released to wider audience, a crucial decision regarding a stakeholder requirement could be inadvertently held back!

As an example consider project prioritisation of elicited requirements from various stakeholders. A requirement from a stakeholder group has been down prioritised and might not be met. This decision has not been communicated to the stakeholder group timely through proper re-engagement. This “hidden” project decision could be catastrophic down the line for the project to meet timely deliverable sign-offs & quality acceptance criteria.

While Organizational culture and working atmosphere is of utmost significance to create a culture of “shared wisdom ” – a Business consultant’s proactive leadership can reduce the pile of information /requirement/risks that are wrongly kept in quadrant 3 & must be shifted to quadrant 1 for wider audience reference. A Business Consultant can assist the project in reducing such “incongruence” and help “breaking bad news at right time in proper manner” to audience through various techniques and behaviours. The example below touches upon the example covered in previous paragraph.

  • Balance Scorecard[ New technique introduced in BABOK V3] to communicate context around “Why a requirement was down prioritised/dropped”

As depicted in Diagram2 the purpose of the shift from Quadrant 3 to Quadrant 1 is to Establish Alignment.

The Balance Score Card (originated by Robert Kaplan and David Norton), in my view, is the perfect tool for depicting the broader context and balance considerations under which the requirement has been down prioritised. Based on the project context the standard Score card parameters can be tweaked to communicate Key project vision, goals and requirement prioritisation dimensions. The standard BSC dimensions are as below:-

BA Dec23 2020 3

  • The SPIKE Protocol (to break “bad news”)

As a Blue ocean strategy practitioner, I am committed to looking at protocols and frameworks from unexpected sectors of the world that bring fresh perspectives to Business analysis consulting paradigm!

The SPIKE protocol, as you know, is used by clinical practitioners (e.g. Cancer Australia) – to disclose a bad news to the patient regarding their medical condition. The first reason the protocol is referred is it’s through structured patient“(in our case stakeholder) centric approach. The other compelling reason is the extreme learning aspect .When it comes to braking bad news, it doesn’t get more complex/stressful than the situation where a medical practitioner (in our case the consultant) has to disclose extreme information to a patient in distress (in our case the stakeholder whose requirement has been dropped). The analogy used is – If you learn how to climb the Himalayas, there is a fair chance you are well equipped to climb any other mountain in the world.

Let us look at how the SPIKE protocol can be interpreted to meet the management Consultant perspective & map into a few of the underlying competencies mentioned in BABOK V3:-

BA Dec23 2020 4

Area 4: HIDDEN

Quadrant 4 is the “Mystery “quadrant and hence the Quadrant of “Exploration” and “Innovation”. Research shows less than 10% of projects tap into this quadrant effectively through the life cycle of the project for various reasons! One major reason is the lack of acknowledgement of the very fact that such a quadrant exists; i.e. there is no conscious effort from project or stakeholders to look beyond the obvious and they often end up scrambling repeatedly over the knowns. But for the brave few who venture out on the exploration, challenging the “stated” and “statuesque “ – invaluable treasures await! – such critical information that could make the difference between a good launch with a few glitches & average customer experience vs a great implementation with zero defects and 100% customer satisfaction! . This is the quadrant to challenge the knowns and statuesque to breakthrough to innovative paradigm shift information!

A few consulting tools and techniques that I have come across aiding this collaborative ‘exploration “is listed below (in addition to the”Collaborativee games” & BMC (Business Model Canvasing) listed in previous section):-

  • Value Chain Analysis

BA Dec23 2020 5

Example provided here is classic Porter’s model. Any value chain analysis is aimed at appreciating the scope of the project in the context of overall Organisational value levers and dependencies. It is often found that such an end-end view based deliberation results in fresh perspectives that ultimately unravel crucial dependencies or information enriching the requirements.

  • Design Thinking

As we know the term emerged at Stanford in the 1980s, as a way to characterize the broad approach taken toward problem solving. This user centric approach, originating in the world of design, embraces visual thinking. Design thinking can be applied to the world of business consulting, along with stakeholders, to solve problems in processes, business models and strategy. The key idea here is to push the thinking beyond the comfort zones and invent and imagine customer experiences /requirements from Quadrant 4 and move to them to reality in quadrant 1. The Design Thinking stages are:-

BA Dec23 2020 6
Note: Above model is attributed to Tim Brown (CEO and president of IDEO)

Taking responsibility for the outcome

As a Junior Business Analyst who’s about to go into a meeting to report on why our latest deployment into production had so many bugs –

it made me think about all the missed opportunities and potential questions I could have asked myself to catch them sooner.

As a business analyst, it’s my job to brief the team on the features that need to be developed, and ensure they get the designs and documentation to ensure a smooth, (hopefully) bug-free implementation that can be thoroughly tested before release. So why did we have four bugs then?

Assume responsibility

Asking yourself these questions may help to pinpoint where the issue originated:

1. How often are change requests initiated (not due to a change in business requirements), within the project – due to incomplete or incorrect requirements?

2. How often are bugs added to the backlog, as a result of unclear or misunderstood requirements?


How often are the designs or documentation being updated to re-clarify the requirements which have been misunderstood by the developers?

How often are the testers missing potential test scenarios due to lack of knowledge of the scope of the work being implemented?

How often are additional backlog items and stories created due to lack of completeness within the specifications?

How often does the client point of missing aspects of features or stories which have made their way into the staging environment or production due to a poorly fleshed out requirements spec?

(Less) Consistency is key.

I found myself answering ‘frequently’ to too many of the above questions, which not only impacts the overall deadline of the project, but it also costs our clients a fair penny in project costs.

Striving to be a better BA does not mean perfection from day 1, but rather small improvements over time – and that means starting with an honest reflection of where you may be falling short.

Don’t fall into the blame game of, “Oh, but the developer should have thought of this scenario”, or “Oh the testers should have picked it up”. You created the spec, you were there for the grooming, and the planning – and had the opportunity to glance over the test cases before development began.  Take ownership of the outcome.

So where did I fall short this time? Even though my spec was well thought out AND I provided the testers with a list of test scenarios to consider, the one thing I didn’t do – was consider the scope of the system being impacted in the development -resulting in an entire segment of the system going untested.

Sometimes we’re so focused on the little details that we forget to take a step back and take in the bigger picture.

The Business Analysis Hierarchy of Needs

The business analyst’s journey is an enduring one.

You find yourself amongst broken systems, inefficient processes, contradictory information, blue-sky ideas, and unhappy customers. Which do you address first?

The stakeholders’ response of “everything, now” is the conflicting norm.

But that doesn’t help…

At any given time only one thing can be the most important—only one item can be top-priority. Yet if we don’t know what that is, we might be fixing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or, fixing the right thing at the wrong time, as solid solutions are only so on strong foundations.

You can pinpoint the right level to work on at the right time, by understanding the business analysis hierarchy of needs.

BATimes September16 2020 1

Figure 1 The Business Analysis Hierarchy of Needs


Needs lower down the hierarchy must be satisfied before you can attend to needs higher up.

  1. Problem – the creation of opportunity.
    When it comes to business change, there needs to be a problem or an opportunity. When it comes to business analysis, you need to discover the need, explore the situation and understand the objective in order to move up the hierarchy.
  2. Solution – the creation of capability.
    Many businesses build ineffective solutions because they jump into solution-mode or focus on technology. It’s important you build a product that addresses stakeholders’ needs. And your solution must be baked into a holistic business system.
  3. Service – the creation of competence.
    This is where you realise operational efficiency. The idea is that as the solution settles, the business starts to become more organised and less dependent on you. By enabling operations effectively you move the needle onto business as usual.
  4. Impact – the creation of transformation.
    This is where you realise the change is not about transaction but transformation. You are not deploying a function, but rather a product/service that impacts somebodies. You need to focus on changing behaviours, and managing emotions.
  5. Utility – the creation of satisfaction.
    You started with a promise (not a guarantee) about the change you were seeking to make. To achieve total satisfaction you need to maximise usefulness, productivity, profitability, or other benefits. This should be the objective of your change.

The business analysis hierarchy of needs is a compass that can be used to co-create “value” from a base with opportunity towards the pinnacle of utility.