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Tag: Development

Experience is the Best Teacher Reflect on Your Actions Taken

Welcome to the last episode of the Coach Clinton 7-Steps to Accomplishment Methodology –finally!

Those of you who have been with me throughout this journey deserve my heartiest congratulations because now you are equipped with the knowledge to achieve anything you want in life. The only limit is your ambitions otherwise nothing is beyond your reach – provided that you follow the entire process just like I described.

Before we fit in the last piece of the achievement jigsaw puzzle, let us list down the first 6 steps:

Step 1 – Appraise your performance
Step 2 – Ascertain your goals and priorities
Step 3 – Approach your goal achievement plan
Step 4 – Avert negativity with your motivation affirmation
Step 5 – Actualize your goals by getting into action
Step 6 – Attain your goals and reward yourself

Now we start with the last step…

Step 7 – Analyze Results

This last step is one of the most important step of the 7-step methodology. After going through great pains and achieving your goals, you need to sit down and analyze the entire process. If you don’t do that, you will have to reinvent the wheel every time you start working on the next goal.

This step helps you learn from your mistakes and helps you identify your strong points so that you can avoid the mistakes and focus on the strengths. Result? Swifter achievement of your goals with lesser mistakes – thus achieving Elevation Exceleration!

This step, as known as Analyze Results, is all about extracting the value of learning from the actions that you have taken while striving toward your goals. It is of utmost importance to learn from past actions. Have you heard the phrase ‘hindsight is 20/20’? It makes perfect sense because once an event has occurred, it becomes very easy to analyze it and see what went wrong with it whereas it is almost impossible to predict something that may happen in the future. Even the best project managers struggle to predict and manage risk. So, it seems a wise thing to use your 20/20 hindsight and assess your actions. This simple action can significantly increase your chances of success in the future.

Whether your venture has been a complete success, a moderate success, a disappointing failure, or anything in between, you must sit down and analyze all your actions using your hindsight. Whether you succeed or not, this analysis will give you valuable insights and help you win next time. If you think you have been successful, evaluating the entire effort will help you see which of your actions were right that led you to this success. In future, you can replicate your success by using the same strategies and actions.

The significance of analyzing your mistakes can be understood by a John Powell’s quote: “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Although he is a film composer, I find his take on mistakes quite extraordinary. According to John’s definition, a mistake is only the one which we fail to analyze and pick up our lesson from. In essence, mistakes are great learning opportunities, in disguise.

I seriously hope that now you realize that analyzing your mistakes is a mandatory step of the self-improvement process. To do this effectively, I’m giving you a few practical tips from my years of experience coaching others:

Analyze every time

Like I said earlier, whether it is a breakthrough success or an utter failure, there is no exemption from the hindsight analysis part. There is no room for any excuse that can allow you to skip this extremely important step.

Record your mistakes in detail

Make it a point to go through all the events in greater detail and see which actions were correct and which ones need to be marked for review. Pay attention to the actions and decisions that could have been altered to get better results. The key here is to go in sufficient detail and not to let any detail slip through the cracks.

Accept mistakes

Since this activity is for your own improvement, you should not be afraid of openly accepting your mistakes. Providing yourself with false comfort at this stage will definitely lead you to pay much higher cost of making further mistakes in the future. The best thing is to accept your mistakes with an open mind.

Reasons vs excuses

As a human being, we unconsciously fix the blame of our mistakes on external factors and save ourselves from guilt. It is important to be a little more objective with yourself and not to confuse between genuinely justified reasons for a failure and baseless excuses just to let yourself loose. A better option is to blame yourself for every mistake and then try to take off the blame by using factual justifications only.

Seek help

It is time to acknowledge the fact that nobody is a master of everything. We have made mistakes but there is no shame in seeking the help of someone who is better at doing something – someone who is a specialist of that particular area. Do your due diligence to find the best source of help and ask for help without feeling the unnecessary guilt of not knowing something.

Ask yourself the right questions

Asking yourself the right questions is a great way to get educational value from your mistakes. These questions should be able to capture the exact mistakes and turn them into valuable lessons for the future. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Did this turn out the way I visualized?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What mistake(s) did I make?
  • What was the outcome of my mistake?
  • What type of additional planning do I think could have helped me?
  • What exactly can I learn from this?
  • What can I do in the future to avoid this type of result again?
  • Which skills or resources will I need to handle this type of situations more effectively?
  • What changes can I make in my approach to improve future results?

By following these points, I’m sure you can convert your mistakes into great opportunities. After following this methodology for a few times to achieve different goals, you will see yourself getting better at this and you will even look forward to embarking on your next endeavor.

To conclude this series of discussions, I would urge you again to stop procrastinating and start chasing your dreams and ambitions using the Coach Clinton 7-Steps to Accomplishment Methodology. As the results will start to pour in, I’m sure you will thank yourself for taking this initiative.

Best of luck!

Strategy Spotlight: Be Teaming with Success: Using Assessments and Profiling to Understand Yourself and Others

I have received a number of emails regarding a statement I made in one of my previous blogs.

In that particular post, I mentioned the importance of understanding yourself and others through profiling. The exact quote, “you should profile yourself and the people around you” (See article Master These 7 Skills to Become an Excellent Interviewer). So let me explain the importance of profiling and give you some options.

Related Article: Master These 7 Skills to Become an Excellent Interviewer

A project manager and/or business analyst is a leader who must engage people in order to get stuff done. This reality exists whether through identifying business problems or opportunities, evaluating solution alternatives, or planning and implementing projects. Nothing happens unless you can engage people appropriately. Profiling helps.

Three Profiling Rules and Profile Types to Endure

There are a few rules about profiling that you need to internalize. First, it is not about you so leave your ego at the door. Second, it is all about the other person’s communication needs. Third, you need to adapt to the communication needs of the other person.

Generally, there are three kinds of profiles to consider; intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional quotient (EQ) and culture quotient (CQ). EQ has to do with emotional intelligence and is now considered more important than IQ in achieving success in our lives (business, career, and life). Success is dependent on our ability to read people and act appropriately.

Four Attributes of Emotional Quotients (EQ)

Self-Awareness: You are aware of your thoughts and emotions and the impact they have on your behavior. What you think is what you feel, what you feel is how you act and how you act is the results you get (think, feel, act, results).

Self-Management: Can be defined as your ability to manage your feelings and behaviors. It includes your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Social Awareness: This is where you engage in understanding other people. In essence your ability to read the situation around you, pick up on social cues and adjust accordingly. It is all about people and group dynamics.

Relationship Management: Emphasis is placed on your ability to develop and maintain good relationships. This could be short-term (for projects), to influence and motivate others, to interact for the purpose of understanding a problem, to manage conflicts, etc. I like to think of this as your ability to get on and get along in life.

Six Tools of the Assessment Trade (there are more)

There are many tools that can be used to develop your understanding of yourself and others. I believe that throughout your career it is important to use several tools in order to develop a self-profile that goes beyond just the standard EQ assessment. It’s important to look at your career and work fit, your career anchors, and of course the standard emotional intelligence profiling options. Here is a list of options to help you build your ability to understand yourself and others so you can improve your professional effectiveness.

DISC Profile: This is a behavioral model that examines individual behaviors in their environment, their styles, and behavioral preferences. Four areas looked at include; Dominance (control, power, and assertiveness), Influence (social situations and communication), Steadiness (patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness), and Conscientiousness (structure and organization). This is a powerful tool for profiling, building teams and relationships.

Self-Management Pro: This one is used to predict management and leadership potential so that organizations can develop their professionals. The tool has been proven effective in predicting performance and retention. I like the way it looks at your profile and style in terms of process and structure, learning, orientation, self-direction and lifestyle management.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): A personality inventory that measures people in four key areas; how you relate to others (either by extraversion or introversion), how a person takes in information (sensing or intuition), how a person makes decisions (thinking or feeling) and how a person orders their life (judging or perceiving).

Career Anchors: We are all anchored in something. This tool will help you understand your career anchors and other people’s career anchors. Everyone is not anchored in the same things. You and the person you are working with will fall into one of eight categories (autonomy/independence, security/stability, technical/functional, general management, entrepreneurial creativity, service, pure challenge, and lifestyle). Knowing a person’s career anchors tells you a lot about their natural motivation.

Career Fitters: My new favorite profile as I filled this one a few weeks ago and I was surprised how accurate it was. This profile looks at your personality in the workplace and then provides you insight into career options based on your work personality style. It is great for working with teams and individuals to understand fit or even working with other people and their fit to what they are doing. Send me an email if you would like a link.

Coaching Skills Inventory: The coaching skills inventory generates an overall coaching-effectiveness profile. It teaches you how you do in meetings from the opening, communicating, gaining agreement and closing. Don’t let the title fool you as it is not just about coaching. It can be used to improve your meeting performance. Something I found incredibly valuable in identifying my weaknesses and then developing my meeting skills. This is a huge bonus.

Final Thoughts:

The importance of understanding yourself and others continues to grow. I think it has become imperative that the professional step up and take the time to learn how to profile and adapt in order to increase their success. A combination of emotional quotients and career profiling provides valuable insight into the world around you. These profiles are becoming increasingly relevant to organizations and people development, and the ability to solve business problems because they provide a way to understand and assess behaviors, styles, beliefs, values, attitudes and interpersonal skills. All of which impact your ability to do your job.

Over the course of my career I have done a lot of interviews, small group meetings and workshops where understanding the people around me was critical to the initiative success. Sometimes we would profile on-the-fly and other times we would do formal profiling using a combination of tools, one-on-one debriefs and Group to Business Impact Sessions. Something I still do for clients today.

Why a Business Analysis Certification Is Worth your Time

Early in my career I didn’t understand the value of credentials. I thought that if I did good work, I would get promoted and that passing some silly exam didn’t prove anything.

Over the years my opinion has changed completely. I now understand the discipline required to earn a certification and the value that comes with knowing an industry standard way of operating. I’ve just finished writing a study guide for PMI®’s business analysis certification, the PMI-PBA®. In 2012 I wrote a similar study guide for IIBA®’s CBAP® and CCBA® certifications. After spending over 1000 hours writing about these certifications, I thought I’d share my conclusions.

I have changed my thinking about certifications gradually over the last ten years. Part of the reason is the overwhelming scientific evidence about how human beings learn.

Related Article: Is a Multi-tiered Certification Program the Way to Go?

I have been working in learning and development organizations for 25 years. I have been frustrated by how many students attend a class but don’t retain the information or put their new skills to use. I have continually improved the way I present information to students, realizing that learning doesn’t happen in a couple of days. It takes reinforcement over time. It requires the learner to be forced to recall and demonstrate the new skills.

It is now indisputable that testing is one of the best ways to make sure that humans learn new materials. It turns out that our brains learn best by being forced to recall things that we have learned. The more we recall, practice, reinforce learning, the more likely we will retain it, and these skills will become second nature to us.

In addition to the neuroscience, which proves that testing is a strong learning tool, I have experienced the preparation and study activities necessary to pass a certification exam. In the past 10 years, I have taken four certification exams! Each one required a different level of study based on my work experience. In each case, I started out thinking that I knew everything I needed to know about the topic but each time I was humbled by how much more knowledge and skills were available to me. I was exposed to new ways of thinking, new techniques, and most importantly, I reinforced the things I had already learned and learned them at a deeper level.

Preparing for a difficult exam requires a commitment to achieve, a plan for accomplishing your goal, a willingness to take a risk, and diligence in sticking to the milestones you set. It requires you step outside your comfort zone and push yourself in a new direction. All of these requirements are characteristics of successful business analysts. We love to learn new things, solve complex problems, and conquer tough challenges. Passing a tough exam builds your confidence in taking on new challenges. Earning a certification demonstrates your competence and enriches your personal value.

Taking the exam is a small part of the certification process. A strong certification program requires you to learn the breadth and depth of a body of work which few people would learn in their day to day work. Learning about things you have not yet experienced prepares you for more challenging assignments. Forcing yourself to recall key ideas and concepts, cements them into your neurons. In addition, a certifying organization requires you to keep the learning alive while adding new knowledge through continuing education requirements.

The business analysis certification programs offered by IIBA and PMI continue to rely more and more on situational questions rather than just asking about terms and definitions. These scenarios allow you to demonstrate that you make good decisions and choose the appropriate analysis techniques for each situation.

In addition to the benefits of learning and reinforcing your skills, earning a certification shows the world that you can commit to a tough goal and achieve it. It gives you confidence in your knowledge and strengthens your ability to work effectively. Maintaining certification forces you to keep up with current trends and give back to the profession. You become a mentor to others who desire to earn the certification, and you become a leader in your profession.

As a profession, it is in all of our best interests to have strong certifications. None of us would ever consider seeing a doctor or lawyer who wasn’t certified or licensed. In many professions, these tests are considered entry level requirements. A lawyer is not allowed to practice law in America without first passing the state bar exam. A nurse cannot see patients until he has received his license. If we want business analysis work to be valued and rewarded, we need to hold ourselves to a very high standard. A certification program provides the basis for that standard.

When you started reading this article you may have hoped that I would tell you which business analysis certification to earn. That is up to you. I am interested increasing awareness of the value of business analysis work and support any rigorous certification program which will advance our profession. Choosing the best program for you is another learning challenge which I encourage you to undertake!

Your Next Business Analyst Will Be a Robot

The advancement in artificial intelligence is mind blowing. So much so that teaching robots problem-solving skills is kicking into high gear.

I recently went to a science museum with my family, and one of the exhibits showed that robots are learning problem-solving skills. If you know about and/or believe in Singularity, this is no surprise. You can learn more about singularity here. For a quick reference, I want to share this definition. “The technological singularity is the hypothesis that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing or even ending civilization in an event called the singularity.” In Time magazine about 5 years ago, there was an article that predicted singularity would hit in 2045.

Related Article: Stop Calling Yourself the Bridge

When I read the sign at the museum stating robots are learning problem-solving skills it made me think about the impact to the business analysis profession. Problem-solving is what business analysis professionals do. They are problem solvers. Which led me to think the next generation BA will be a robot. I know most people reading this article will most likely be retired by 2045, so you don’t have to worry about your business analysis role. You may have to worry about how this impacts retirement, but you’ll have to talk to your financial advisor about that one. This took me down a path thinking about how technology is disrupting the BA profession. I landed on the thought that if robots can be BAs in 30 years, then humans half way around the world can be your next BA hire right now. Technology may not be sophisticated enough for a robot to take your job, but it is sophisticated enough to give companies the ability to hire a BA anywhere in the world.

Before I get into what you can do what this means to you and what you can do about it, I want to blow away some myths about having remote BAs.

  1. Distance: I keep hearing people say in the US that the BA role won’t be moved offshore. Well, too late, it already is. The companies I work with have BAs everywhere. I predict the number will grow. And I am not just talking about India or China. Why can’t your next BA peer be from the UK, New Zealand, or Ukraine? Why can’t the next BA on your team be from Los Angeles even though your company is in Des Moines?
  2. Time Zones: How can you possibly have a BA work in New Zealand if the business stakeholders are in the US? The time difference is too great, right? Not too worry. My father worked nights for as long as I can remember. People will work non-9 to 5 jobs if it suits their lifestyle.
  3. Language Barriers: Language barriers will become less and less of an issue every year. When I was in primary school, we started learning a second language in middle school. Now my kids are learning Spanish when they are 5. Younger generations are being brought up in a global world and are being prepared.

Now that I took care of that, you can look at this new reality in two ways. You can see it as a challenge and the fact that you will be vying for a job not only from people in your city but from around the world. Or, you can look at it as an opportunity. No matter where you are, you can apply for jobs around the world. Regardless of the way you look at it, there are things you can do to prove your value to any company.

I have written about valuable skills or characteristics before so I won’t repeat those here. If you have not read my blog post, The Four Chords of Great Business Analysts, please check it out.

For other characteristics to focus on, take a look at an article my buddy Hans Eckman shared from Fast Company, 4 Habits of Employees You Shouldn’t Wait to Promote. Get in the habit.

Oh, but there’s more. Robots may be able to be better problem solvers in the near future. Though, being a good problem solver does not help if you first don’t know what problem you are trying to solve. What good is it if you solve a problem that no one cares about? You need to start or continue to be laser focused on ensuring there is clarity and shared understanding of the problem or opportunity your team is working towards.

Next, you need to focus on remote communication and collaboration. Get really good at this. A recent survey by Meeting Professionals International shows that virtual meetings are expected to grow at twice the rate as live meetings. This is everything from large company meetings to one on one meetings. A large part of your role is to facilitate decisions. The people you are helping make decisions are not always sitting next to you.

Let’s face it; the barriers are broken. Technology has caught up to people’s desire to connect with others around the world. Organizations have options. I can easily connect with friends and colleagues in the UK, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and so on. Organizations no longer need to hire someone that lives a commutable distance from an office. There are 2 key things you should focus on as it relates to remote communication and collaboration. One, you have to learn how to connect on a personal level with people in a remote world. This takes some work. In an office, you do this without even thinking. You see someone getting a drink, and small talk ensues. You see them at lunch, on the way to a meeting, or walking into the office and you can connect with little effort. You usually don’t have to make time to connect with them. In a virtual world, you need to schedule it. Work in time during your day to call someone, text someone, chat with someone just to say hello.

Next, you need to improve your virtual etiquette. When you are face to face with someone, you can eat and drink. When you do this on the phone, the noises that are heard on the other end of the phone are not pleasant. If you are eating while you are on a phone call, it’s like someone having their ear to your mouth as you are chewing. It’s rude and sounds gross! If you are a “slurper” when you drink, don’t drink while on the phone. And have you ever filled up a water glass from a water cooler or refrigerator while on the phone? Have someone try it and tell me what that sounds like. I’d rather you eat on the phone!

Technology will continue to change how you live and work. Will robots be the next generation BAs? Maybe. Until then, work on adding value to your organization regardless of where you live or where your team is located.

Virtually yours,


Why You Need Good Business Analysis: Better Business Performance

Every organization performs business analysis, and good business analysis is all about better business performance. Together, technology and good business analysis are the keys to superior results.

By using an expert in business analysis, your projects or actions will be created for you to the highest of standards bringing you a far lower risk of failure.

This gives a business peace of mind when they know they have;

  • A greater engagement of the business
  • A very good result in alignment with your plan
  • Better chance of making new changes
  • Decisive project decision-making
  • Improvement of projects or initiatives
  • Instigating change in support of improved technology
  • Improved business results
  • Higher return on investment

Proper business analysis engages and empowers stakeholders, allowing them to deliver value to customers in better ways.

Related Article: Good Business Analyst, Bad Business Analyst

Here’s the thing about business analysis.  It’s all about helping more companies to think about the “why” before going ahead, thus preventing a technology project or initiative providing little or no value to an organization.

Here’s an example of a proper business analysis. We were engaged to analyze a cash handling business process after an audit report. This report raised concerns over staff counting cash. The goal was to improve the process to create increased security controls.

Results of our first executive stakeholder meeting

We proved through strategic questioning, most of the company’s customers were familiar with credit and loyalty credit cards. By understanding the requirements and the context of the organization we were able to provide a solution. Therefore, increasing the opportunities available.

Furthermore, it reduced the use of cash. Rebranding the internal customer card created an environment with better compliance reporting and customer patronage. The cash handling process was the issue, but the processes around it provided the solution.

Example #2

Another client requested us to assist with the use of a barcode scanner. This scanner would be for inward and outward goods at their warehouse.

To begin with, we completed an initial analysis of the stock handling process.  As a result, we found using barcodes was going to require a large overhead to put into effect.

The reason for this:

  • Over 40% of outgoing stock was in the original packaging
  • 10% of stock was individually prepared for dispatch

We found the Return on Investment (ROI) would be negative. For this reason, it was not a viable solution.

Our business analysis resulted in the client making the decision not to go any further. The business outcome was that we were able to provide high value to the client.

Example #3

Another client sought a solution to manage the approval process and documents. These were associated with their major energy capital projects, having a value of up to $100 million.

We performed the business process automation analysis. We also mapped the future state processes and explored the business and functional requirements through a series of stakeholder workshops using aspects of our method, and customized templates in line with the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®).

Based on these documented processes and requirements we developed an automated workflow solution.

The outcomes of the process automation solution were:

  • Increased consistency of the approval process
  • An automated audit trail for the approvals
  • An increase in the tracking of documents, resulting in a greater efficiency with approvals
  • A reliable mechanism for staff to determine the status of payment requests and payments
  • Reduced time by eliminating manual and resource wastage on printing and manual approvals
  • Reduced physical file storage

In the final analysis, the outcome of minimized approval delays reduced the external contract resources required for approval processes. Within six months, the cost of developing the solution was paid for by using the automated workflow.

An expert business analyst requires a unique skillset many senior executives have never experienced, so it is difficult for management to distinguish between average and good business analysis. Often subject matter experts or untrained individuals are used as business analysts to deliver suboptimal business analysis.

The BABOK® Guide states that “Business analysis is the practice of enabling change in an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. Business analysis enables an enterprise to articulate needs and the rationale for change, and to design and describe solutions that can deliver value”.

The best way I explain what business analysis is to senior executives is that it is all about better business performance.

Good business analysis is the foundation for organisational:

  • innovation
  • business agility
  • cost reduction
  • cyber security
  • risk control, and
  • technology efficiency

The BABOK® Guide also states “A business analyst is any person who performs business analysis tasks described in the BABOK® Guide, no matter their job title or organizational role”.

The BABOK® Guide does not make the distinction of Business Analyst quality, competency and experience or breadth of tasks and techniques. Evidence in the field strongly suggests good business analysis is more likely to be achieved by a well-trained business analyst, experienced in the breadth of business analysis from strategic to detail, industry aligned, certified and practice supported.

As organizations look to become more innovative to survive and prosper with technology in overcrowded industries, this is critical. Businesses today are more competitive and good business analysis can deliver an advantage that gives business the differentiating edge they require to prosper.

In many forum discussions, a business analyst is described as a bridge between business and IT, a problem solver, a decision enabler, a requirements manager or engineer, process modeller, an agile team member, etc. However, if good business analysis is all about better business performance should we not describe a business analyst as a person with competencies, skills, and experience and aligned to industry standards that contributes to better business performance?