Tag: Communication

Time to Prune Your Social Media History

Every week we hear about someone who has an embarrassing social post come back to haunt them. Even worse, this can lead to a loss of employment or being “canceled”. You need to actively manage your social image and reputation at all times. Wait! We have freedom of speech! Yes, but that does not mean freedom from accountability, judgment, and consequences. It’s up to you to set your risk tolerance. Here is guidance to help you decide and better manage your image.

Risks and considerations for having an expanded social presence

As I watched more and more people having to explain, delete, and apologize for past posts, I spent time considering my social trail, goals, and risk I was willing to take. Several major insights occurred to me:

  1. No one goes back to really old posts or sees what you like unless they are looking for someone specific or seeing who you are. When was the last time you scrolled through posts from 2 years ago?!
    1. Delete all old messages that do not have lasting value.
  2. What is acceptable now may be Cancelled in the future or understood under a different context. Imagine I posted about taking my niece to the zoo and how much fun we had. 10 years from now, what if zoos are considered horrible places of the past that unfairly incarcerated animals? There is such a limited value to having that post 10 years from now, that’s it’s just better to make it a point in time and delete it.
  3. Match your message and purpose with your platform: Social platforms are not a good place to sway opinions. I decided to focus on each location with how I could best reach my goal.
    1. LinkedIn – Professional image and content related to my current purpose and focus. Keep content timeless and safe to minimize professional risk. Don’t worry about history.
    2. Twitter – Pint in time notifications or very short updates. Delete all Tweets older than 30 days.
    3. Facebook personal account – Minimize personal account and lock everything down. Delete all posts after 1-3 weeks except for a few that are relevant to my public background or profile. Remove all tags to avoid conflict with comments or content changes later.
    4. Facebook Eckman Guides business page – Use as an extension of LinkedIn for professional posts, updates, and article sharing. Follow the same posting guidelines as LinkedIn.
    5. YouTube personal account – Get private except for low-risk videos I’m willing to have as public. (animal and dash camera videos)
    6. YouTube Eckman Guides – Use as an extension of LinkedIn for video content including presentation videos, podcasts, and topical playlists.
    7. Instagram – Use for professional photography sharing later. Minimize social interaction (likes, shares, comments).
    8. TikTok (or platform of the moment) – Just say no! Privacy risks are not worth it. This platform is not relevant to my content and purpose.
    9. Personal/Professional website – Use as primary professional marketing website and archive for support content, guides, presentations, videos, and recommendations.

 


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Advantages of having an expanded social presence

  1. It’s required if you want to be an influencer – If this is your path, decide on your boundaries ahead of time and manually curate your content as needed.
    Advice: Develop a risk mitigation plan in case your posts or content draw negative attention. Delete and apologize is NOT enough of a strategy.
  2. You need views and likes to qualify for advertising standards – Deleting your history reduces your social influence and ability to hit advertising requirements.
    Advice: Define your goal and risk tolerance. Create guidelines for long-term content.
  3. Reaching a broader audience – You may reach more viewers and followers with a wider net.
    Identify your audience who benefits from your core value.
  4. Additional views – For some content, especially videos and podcasts, the majority of your views could come weeks or months later as more people discover your channel.
    Advice: Decide what is core to your message and keep that content until your purpose changes or the content is stale.

Tools to streamline social media management

Trying to manage your content and history manually can be time-consuming and difficult. Fortunately, tools are available to make it a little easier. I’m sure there are others or new ones since this article was written, but hopefully, this will help get you started. Note, I’m not endorsing any of these tools or articles, just saving you search time.

How to elude the congruent mishap?

It is summer! Time to get home improvement projects done. I came across a social media post that caught my attention. One of my neighbors shared pictures of their recently painted cabinets. The posting included before and after images plus the contractor name (XYZ Company). Impressed, I reached out to the same contractor and requested a painting estimate. In the interim, I reached out to my neighbor to check if I could look at the painted cabinets in person.

Me: The backsplash looks great!
Neighbor: Thanks! XYZ Company did a splendid job!
Me (Surprised): The contractor mentioned to me that they do not do a backsplash.
And the conversation kept continuing. More discrepancies popped up between services communicated to both of us. Nevertheless, we kept discussing the details like the colors, rates, and such.

Light bulb moment:
Me: Is the XYZ Company located in suburb A?
Neighbor: Oh no, they are in suburb B.
There you go! We were talking about two different contractors that have the same name (XYZ Company)!

Bringing this together in the business analysis world:

There are numerous instances when one term may have different meanings. The meaning of these terms can vary depending on the project/stakeholder/organization. Here are a few steps we can take as a business analyst (BA) to avoid going down a rabbit hole in a conversation:

1. Never make assumptions: At the start of a meeting, confirm the facts gathered are accurate. Take this a step further to define the terms or acronyms within the project context.
Example: Part and Product might mean the same for a project. A Part might be a component; A Product might be a finished product in another instance.

2. Ask the right questions: You hear a term come up multiple times in meetings. You know what this term means. Do not stop there! Ask questions. Use your BA skills to draw out contextual details during conversations. Build a complete picture of this term and its significance.
Example: Is this a term that is popular in your organization? Is this a term used in discussions relevant to a specific system? Is this a term used in day-to-day conversations?
In my scenario above, if only I had asked more questions at the beginning. If only I had confirmed the name of the contractor plus the address! It would have saved some time for both of us.

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3. Check-in: Introduce checkpoints to ensure all the team members are on the same page.
Example: Say you see a demonstration of new functionality for a system. A new term has emerged during the meeting. Add this to a dictionary with a definition (definition does not have to be perfect!). Encourage the stakeholders to validate this dictionary at regular intervals. Reviewing these terms towards the end of the project is too late.

4. Highlight it: When sharing meeting notes, include a section for terms and definitions. Add another section for acronyms and their abbreviations. Color code any new terms/words. Highlight updated definitions. Create a list of slang phrases used within the team.
Example: Who knew GOAT did not mean an animal but “Greatest of all time”? Same term but different meaning.

Conclusion:
Have you encountered a situation where the communication was relating to 1-2-3? But the team understood it as 3-2-1? What steps did you take to clear the confusion and get everyone on the same page?

Paraphrasing a quote based on my experience stated above:
XYZ Company was like two sites in the same business, but with different services. So different, yet so similar in their offering

Job Crafting for BAs

You don’t have to change roles or organizations to get more enjoyment and satisfaction from your work. There are many ways to make your current job work better for you.

Job Descriptions

The description of the BA role looks fairly similar from one organization to the next. Some ask for a bit of specialization, some are more technical, some are more strategic. Sometimes there are formal management responsibilities, sometimes informal support and mentoring. And yes, some organizations put in strange requirements and duties which make us wonder if they know what business analysis is… but, for the most part, it’s pretty standard. And yet, we all know that the practice of business analysis can be very different between organizations and roles. It is tempting to believe that it is purely the organization and culture which is causing these differences; in reality, the individual BAs often influence the role a great deal.

Job Crafting

Most organizations have many formal and informal ways that employees change or ‘craft’ their role. Including things like becoming a:

  • First aider
  • Mentor
  • Social organizer
  • Staff representative
  • Fire warden.

Most of the time people are either asked to volunteer for these roles or assume them by default, but these ‘optional extras’ often give them a feeling of purpose and wider contribution.
This is the essence of job crafting – looking for opportunities to gain or utilize skills in a way that gives pleasure or purpose. Maximizing the things you are good at and enjoy, minimizing those you don’t. The beauty of job crafting is that people enjoy and are good at different things, so no one is being disadvantaged by not carrying out their whole job description, or adding a few extra things in! And – allowing people to work in this way increases engagement, wellbeing, and productivity.

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Crafting Business Analysis

BAs often have a lot of autonomy; to apply the techniques we think are appropriate, to engage with different people, to create the outputs we believe will be suit the situation, and critically how we chose to frame the work we do.

Crafting the Process

The right business analysis approach differs from one assignment/project/product to the next. If we want to inject more creativity, we can do that. If we want more structure, we can do that too. We don’t have to stick in the narrow lane of business analysis consisting of only workshops and user stories. We can create outputs and diagrams which demonstrate the bigger picture, show how everything fits together, and offer value by creating a shared understanding. If you are interested in:

  • Creativity – use more visual methods
  • Variety – learn a new analysis technique and look for opportunities to use it
  • Re-use – create and promote templates
  • Challenge – ask for new opportunities and responsibilities

Crafting Relationships

Good relationships are what make good workplaces. BAs often know lots of people from many different departments and roles, as well as BAs in other organizations. It is possible to build meaningful working relationships, with people who bring out the best in us and motivate us. We can use different engagement methods, such as regular check-ins, newsletters, and surveys to build both engagement and relationships. If you are interested in:

  • Sharing knowledge – start or contribute to an internal community of practice or external conference
  • Developing others – offer to become a mentor or buddy for new employees
  • Learning from others – ask to do shadowing or meet for a regular coffee with someone knows about an area that you don’t
  • Socializing – create a book club/film club/special interest group at work

Crafting Purpose

The stories we tell ourselves are incredibly important for internal motivation. What brings you to work? How does your organization contribute to society or the economy? This is not limited to the public and third sectors. Financial services organizations allow people to buy homes, telecommunications companies connect families all over the world; making a profit does not preclude purpose. How does your role make people’s lives a little better? (whether they realize it or not). If you are interested in:

  • Helping people – consider how what your organization does to make a positive contribution, and how you play a part in that
  • Career development – be clear how the skills and experience you gain in this role is preparing you for the next step
  • A cause or issue – champion it through existing staff groups or start one
  • Fundraising – suggest a staff or team charity

Permission

Many of the ways to craft the BA role can be done with no consultation, permission, funding, or special training. A common reaction to job crafting is that “it wouldn’t be allowed in my organization” when the truth is, it is already happening, you just have to look for it.

Resentment

Going consistently ‘above and beyond’ should of course be recognized and rewarded by organizations, but sometimes it isn’t. Job crafting is not really about being noticed by others or seeking additional rewards. The motivation for job crafting should be that it will increase our job satisfaction, let us use or strengths and pursue our interests and improve our wellbeing. Once you start resenting your organization or boss, the main person impacted is you! Job crafting may not be enough to overcome it, but it’s worth a try.

Conclusion

BAs have many routes to crafting our roles available to us. By carefully considering the relationships we enjoy and want to invest in, by tailoring our approach to suit both the situation and our preferences, and by framing the contribution we make to our organizations and society, we can all be happier, healthier, and more effective business analysts.

Further reading: Rob Baker (2020) Personalization at Work: How HR Can Use Job Crafting to Drive Performance, Engagement, and Wellbeing

Golden Rules of Stakeholder Engagement in Business Analysis

What makes business analysis on a project effective?1 Is it just about allocating a business analyst (BA) to the project to produce business analysis deliverables on time, or is it about effectively communicating and engaging with stakeholders? While both are tactical prerequisites, we believe that engaging with stakeholders is key to any effective project implementation.

Research proves that, in the long term, effective stakeholder engagement is good for any business.2 Organizations with a greater awareness of stakeholder interests and higher stakeholder engagement patterns are more likely to avoid crisis, simply because they’re in a better position to leverage opportunities and anticipate risks.3 Several compelling studies across industries on the impact of good stakeholder relations demonstrate that, over time, organizations focusing on building stakeholder trust are more resilient across indicators of value such as financial resilience, sales, cost reduction, time to market and control of operating costs.3, 4

So, who are the stakeholders? Stakeholders are individuals, or groups of individuals, who either care about, are actively involved in or have a vested interest or a stake in the project’s success. They can also affect the project BA’s ability to achieve his or her own goals.5 Stakeholders can be internal or external.

Internal stakeholders may include top management, project team members, a BA manager, peers, a resource manager, end-users, and internal customers/delivery partners. External stakeholders may include external customers, governments, contractors and subcontractors, regulators, and suppliers/vendors.

Stakeholder engagement is the practice of interacting with and influencing project stakeholders to drive the overall success of an initiative. Stakeholder expectations and perceptions, as well as their personal requirements, concerns, and agendas, influence projects, determine what success looks like, and impact the achievement of an initiative’s overall outcome. Successful stakeholder engagement is vital to effectively delivering value on a project.

Whether internal or external, the first thing to identify is whether BAs effectively engage with project stakeholders. This paper explores different levels of stakeholder engagement and the approaches that will enable a productive association and result in project success. Typically, stakeholder engagement falls into three broad models: high, moderate, and low engagement.

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High engagement model

Stakeholder engagement is at its peak, in this model, meaning that BA and stakeholder thought processes align on project objectives, definitions, and benchmarks of success. They work in tandem to drive the project to its intended conclusion in an efficient and timely manner. This model is highly interactive. Ideas and suggestions from both sides are exchanged to evaluate the pros and cons and resolve any differences of opinions objectively through a process of mutual consensus. There is mutual respect, trust, and a sense of ownership over the decisions being made and risks being taken.

In short, this is the ideal scenario. In this engagement model, the stakeholder clearly communicates expectations, actively participates in project requirements, promptly responds to questions and communications, and engages with the BA and shows genuine interest in the analyst’s work.

 Best practices to help a BA sustain high stakeholder engagement

  • Work to become a BA on whom stakeholders can depend. Build relationships based on trust.
  • Demonstrate awareness of project timelines, efficiency and cost-related issues while prioritizing the needs of the project.
  • Maintain regular communication. Keep stakeholders informed of project progress and BA deliverables.
  • Address constraints and challenges on time. If there are time constraints or other challenges, meet stakeholders formally or informally (in-person or virtually) to discuss the issues and get their buy-in for feasible solutions.
  • Listen to and address stakeholder concerns in a timely manner.
  • Keep stakeholders engaged by involving them throughout the project. Always ask for stakeholder input and work toward implementing what’s possible.
  • Recognize stakeholders’ achievements and appreciate their support.

 Moderate engagement model

Stakeholder engagement is average in this model, meaning that the BA and the stakeholder agree on the vision and objectives of the project but don’t understand the impact their respective actions might have on its timelines and success. They work on the same team but don’t always collaborate, attend meetings but don’t actively participate, provide input and feedback but not in a timely manner. In this model the stakeholders aren’t clear on the BA’s expectations and deliverables. In other words, to achieve a higher level of engagement it requires active collaboration and participation between the BA and the stakeholder.

So, there is hope with this model. But if the BA doesn’t work to improve the relationship, things are likely to quickly reach a point from which it will become harder to recover.

Best practices to help a BA improve the stakeholder engagement level

  • Drive conversations and meetings that are interactive, constructive, and engaging for both parties.
  • Communicate effectively to engage stakeholders. Leverage collaboration tools and continuous brainstorming workshops that enable stakeholder participation.
  • Set realistic expectations with stakeholders from the onset of the project.
  • Be mindful of and flexible to accommodate stakeholders’ schedules and preferences. This includes engaging with stakeholders formally or informally, as well as during work or off hours.
  • Listen to, heed, and execute stakeholders’ feedback and demonstrate its impact on the project.

BAs can leverage several tools and strategies to enhance stakeholder engagement (see Table 1). Once they understand the project, they will become more receptive to what a BA has to offer. And then they will want to know how the initiative will be implemented, whether and how their concerns will be addressed, and how they can contribute to the solution.13 At this stage, it’s important for BAs to manage the relationship to set the right expectations and agree on roles without losing the already established level of engagement.

IIBA BABOK® Guide Technique Purpose
Functional decomposition Explains key components of business analysis to create transparency within an initiative, specifically in how a BA works and the role stakeholders can play.
Mind mapping Enables BAs to gather and summarize participants’ thoughts and ideas, as well as any ancillary information, and then determine interrelationships.
Process modelling Defines the solution and describes how the business analysis will be executed. This technique can include actors and information flows to illustrate what’s expected of each stakeholder during various stages of the process.
Roles and performance matrix Maps each stakeholder’s role and permissions across business analysis activities. For example, which stakeholder will shape what part of the solution, approve the solution design and implement the solution.
Stakeholder list, map, or personas Documents stakeholder responsibilities, defining how each will shape the solution and all will collaborate.
Brainstorming Fosters creative thinking around project challenges and possible solutions. The goal of brainstorming is to produce new ideas and derive themes for further analysis.

Table 1 – IIBA Reference 5,6

Low engagement model

Stakeholder engagement is below average in this model, meaning that BA and stakeholders thought processes don’t align regarding project objectives, definitions, and benchmarks of success. The BA and stakeholders don’t work in tandem to drive the project to its intended conclusion in an efficient and timely manner. In this model, there’s no constructive exchange of ideas and suggestions with the objective of evaluating the pros and cons. Differences of opinions aren’t resolved objectively and lack mutual consensus. Respect is a lacking and there’s no sense of ownership of decisions being made and risks taken.

This results in conflicting requirements and deliverables, delayed project timelines, dissatisfaction on the project progress and eventual failure to meet expectations. In this engagement model, the stakeholder:

  • Asserts authority
  • Doesn’t actively participate in meetings
  • Provides minimal to no feedback
  • Quickly critiques deliverables
  • Resists change

At the beginning of the project, especially a change initiative, there may be resistance for various reasons.6 Chief among these is fear. Because the business case behind a change initiative is often restructuring, reducing headcount, or introducing automation — all of which may lead to the loss of some jobs — people will naturally be concerned. That may lead some people doubt their ability to develop new skills, learn new things or maintain an acceptable level of performance in the new system. Projects that lack clarity at the start are also concerning. While it’s always difficult to anticipate the direction of a change initiative, in the early phase, most stakeholders aren’t sure of their role or how or where they’ll fit in the overall process. And without established norms or processes in place, an initiative is almost always likely to change the environment. At times it’s this discomfort, or a lack of justification for this change, which causes resistance.

 Remember: Be prepared. Be flexible. Be ready to escalate.

To overcome these and other challenges, we recommend the following steps:

Step 1: Be Prepared

Send the agenda and any relevant documents prior to the meeting so that everyone has an opportunity to prepare for the discussion. Arrive in the meeting room (physical or virtual) a few minutes early, especially when the BA is the host. Follow the best practices for virtual audio/video calls, especially in a remote work setting.7 Invite a person of authority to the meeting for support. This could include the BA’s manager, the project manager, or a business process consultant. Be active rather than reactive in any situation. For a BA, it’s always important to take a few minutes before responding to an email or conversation. BAs should never take feedback personally and always be willing to reach out to their peers, core team or leader for help.

Step 2: Be Flexible

Accommodate the stakeholders who aren’t available to meet in person and in this case, the BA should try to address stakeholder requests by scheduling a conference call. If meeting during prime business hours is not possible then connect with stakeholders during off-hours or different times of the workday, within stipulated/acceptable business hours. This sort of availability supports a more informal setting, which in turn encourages stakeholders to share their concerns. It also demonstrates that a BA is eager to engage with stakeholders and understands their viewpoint. It will help the BA gain stakeholders’ trust and make them feel their voices are heard and their perspectives factored in.

Step 3: Be ready to escalate

Invite a person of influence — for example, a hardline manager or project manager — to meetings with stakeholders to get better guidance on how to maneuver the project as well as keep the manager informed of progress. Stay calm and objective throughout the process. Under no circumstance should a BA feel the need to pressure stakeholders on any matter since such behavior will only aggravate the situation and result in further damage to the relationship with stakeholders.

 

Our recommendations for a successful engagement model

We recommend the following engagement model that has been tried and tested and has resulted in successful and long-standing engagements with our stakeholders over the years.

Stakeholder analysis/mapping. Analyze stakeholder needs and expectations and think about how the project or the proposed change might impact stakeholders, as well as how they can impact the proposed change. Based on this analysis, select an engagement approach that best suits stakeholders’ needs for effective communication and collaboration.

Plan of engagement. Plan an effective approach to stakeholder engagement. The goal is to select an approach that will ensure the highest level of engagement throughout the initiative. Things to consider when selecting an engagement approach may include:

  • Style of communication during meetings. Keep the meetings interactive. Initiate and foster maximum participation.
  • Frequency and duration of meetings. Schedule short meetings with an agenda. When meetings are too long, participants lose their focus.
  • Format of meetings. Schedule virtual or in-person meetings as appropriate.

Set expectations. Set and communicate expectations with stakeholders. Make sure the desired outcomes are clear and well understood by the stakeholders. For example, if BAs request input on requirements, then they need to make sure that:

  • Documentation is sent to stakeholders on time, preferably well in advance of the request for feedback.
  • Documentation includes anything stakeholders may need, such as reference documents, process flows, data elements or use cases.
  • A timeline is set for when the BA expects feedback.

Engage stakeholders. Keep the focus on maintaining and improving the level of engagement. Keep stakeholders engaged through:

  • Maintain the frequency and level of communication. Keep stakeholders apprised of the progress and possible challenges.
  • Active listening. Listen to stakeholders’ concerns and feedback and address them accordingly.

Review and adjust. Review and adjust the plan based on stakeholders’ engagement and feedback. Revisit the approach and adjust for future interactions to maintain the level of stakeholder participation and involvement.

Conclusion

The general rule for any stakeholder engagement is the understanding that stakeholders care about their responsibilities and want to do their best. Despite that, there may be certain obstacles that prevent successful and beneficial stakeholder engagement. In that case, BAs will find it helpful to analyze the initiative to understand the cause of the roadblock and find a way to resolve it as early as possible. Handling the situation objectively and the demonstrating the initiative’s roadmap — including a clear picture of the initiative, its impact, and everyone’s roles — fosters a collaborative environment that will lead to a successful project.

 

Sources:

1 “ The Habits of Effective Business Analysts.” https://medium.com/analysts-corner/the-habits-of-effective-business-analysts-c9b7d9786f8b

2 “Long term business health stakeholder theory.” https://backlog.com/blog/long-term-business-health-stakeholder-theory/

3 Enright, Sara; McElrath, Roger; and Taylor, Alison. 2016. “The Future of Stakeholder Engagement.” Research Report, BSR. https://www.bsr.org/reports/BSR_Future_of_Stakeholder_Engagement_Report.pdf

4 Witold J.Henisz, Sinziana Dorobantu and Lite J. Nartey. “Spinning Gold: The Financial Returns to Stakeholder Engagement.” Strategic Management Journal. 2013. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/smj.2180

5 International Institute of Business Analysis. “A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide).” https://www.iiba.org/standards-and-resources/babok/

6 Rahul Ajani. “Engaging Stakeholders in Elicitation and Collaboration.” International Institute of Business Analysis. https://www.iiba.org/professional-development/knowledge-centre/articles/engaging-stakeholders-in-elicitation-and-collaboration/

7 Ken Fulmer. 2020.Working Virtually – 10 Tips for Management.https://www.iiba.org/business-analysis-blogs/working-virtually-10-tips-for-management/

Further reading

Ori Schibi. “The role of the BA in managing stakeholder expectations.” Project Management Institute. October 26, 2014. https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/role-ba-managing-stakeholder-expectations-9367

Kenneth W. Thomas. “Making Conflict Management a Strategic Advantage.” Psychometrics. http://www.psychometrics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/conflictwhitepaper_psychometrics.pdf

Robyn Short. “The Cost of Conflict in the Workplace.” Robyn Short. February 16, 2016. http://robynshort.com/2016/02/16/the-cost-of-conflict-in-the-workplace/

Association for Project Management. “Communicate: the first principle of stakeholder engagement.” https://www.apm.org.uk/body-of-knowledge/delivery/integrative-management/stakeholder-management/

Ian Haynes. ” 4 Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Stakeholders.” wrike. September 25, 2020. https://www.wrike.com/blog/4-strategies-dealing-difficult-stakeholders

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.

 

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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.