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7 Reminders from an Unlikely Place – What Makes for Great Business Analysis

Vinyl Revival Song Writers Group

Photographer: Garth Sackrison Photos

Often when I am working with clients on a strategic business analysis, planning or roadmap engagement, I look to see if they are teaming with success. I learned the importance of this from my time at working with clients across various industries. This was recently reaffirmed, not by a business engagement, but through working with a group of song writers and musicians. The engagement was to facilitate (share), document (write), integrate (edit), and present (perform) a song to be video recorded for an important sponsor (influencer). The outcome (song) was a tribute for a person and friend whose personal life struggles became a catalyst for people engagement, personal relationship creation and a reminder we all serve somebody.

Here are the 7 Reminders from an Unlikely Place – What Makes for Great Business Analysis

Never be the Lone Ranger: I am guilty of this one. I love my independence. As someone who is into senior business analysis-type work, it is easy to become a lone ranger; trying to do everything myself. The interesting thing you learn when hanging out with a group of musicians (who are sincere) is that everyone has different talents and a unique contribution to make. The best part is that you are not alone. So don’t be. There is always someone available to help. All you need to do is belong.

It Takes a Community:  It takes a community to be successful. That means a team. I learned this when I wrote my first book. You think I would have learned that in all the teams I worked with throughout my career. But no I did not. You see, in my mind, writing a book meant you went off somewhere, in isolation at some remote cabin and the book was magically created. Pouf! When you write a song or a book, you need a team to succeed. The requisites are the same for writing a requirements document. Within the Business Analysis career, we need to break down the barriers of work competition and start working together to create successful communities: teams.

Related Article: 5 Steps to Creating Partnership ‘LIKE’ Relationships in Business

‘Cheers’ Had an Important Message: Now, I don’t expect you to remember the TV show, Cheers. The opening song, Where Everybody Knows Your Name, by Gary Portnoy (, serves as a good reminder for something we all secretly desire. Most people will recall Norm, one of the main characters. When he walked into the establishment everyone would yell “Norm!” In our profession there is an opportunity make everyone feel welcome. If you are a professional leader who facilitates sessions, you can create your own “Cheers” opportunities. I have seen this occur in other businesses and I have definitely experienced it myself.

Acknowledgement Goes a Long Way: During my experience with the group of musicians, the song, Pearl River, written by Ken j Warkentin, (on Facebook) was presented. I was asked for feedback. I had marked up the paper with the lyrics and chords on it and I reluctantly shared it with the group. To my surprise, my remarks were well-received. Several days later, at another event, the writer sat down beside me, leaned over and said he had incorporated my suggestions, which made the song better. I was shocked and humbly thankful. Sharing your thoughts can be intimidating. Maybe you are concerned about what people think of. In business analysis, we are leaders. It’s important to acknowledge people on your team for their contribution. Great communities share and acknowledge one another’s contributions.

Know What You are Working Towards: This is something I have learned to be extremely important. In business analysis we generally refer to having a clear definition of the problem or opportunity. Ideally, we get this from leadership. But that is not always the case. The ability to clearly articulate the challenge/opportunity in 150 words or less is not a gift or a skill most people have developed. My Dad had an expression: “I have more years behind me than in front of me.” He’s 95. He has been saying this for a long time. Something I noticed, though; everything he did was based on not knowing what tomorrow would bring. So he would work towards something. Business analysis needs to be focused the same way. It is important to treats things as if there is no tomorrow. So, you need to know what you are working towards, why you are doing that, and then get it done. It could be your last chance. Don’t have regrets.

Related Article:  4 Common Skills Needed to Embrace Strategic Thinking in Your Business

Believe in Yourself: In these last twelve months I had the opportunity to get to know and work with someone whose tag line must be “let’s do it.” We would be discussing an idea and if it made sense, he would say “Let’s do it.” When I am wearing my business analysis hat I can be critical, sceptical and candid. Not because I am a negative person but because I am engaged to question everything, be factual and present ideas for decision-making. There are times I do wonder if within business analysis we (you) can hide behind our (your) insecurities. While working with this musical group I was reminded that sometimes you need to just put yourself out there, to believe in yourself and allow others to support you. In management consulting, I used to have a sponsor who would say, “Do first and ask for forgiveness later.” Sometimes that is all we need to do. It was great lesson learned.

Communications is Key: Recently I was in a meeting with a sponsor of a large financial investment organization, which was about a senior business analysis contract opportunity. Like anyone else, I have to make a living. They asked me what makes a professional successful in business analysis. I told them the story about the former Australia Business Analysis Association which is now part of the IIBA. The Australia Association had this door lock diagram that I always liked. I still reference it in my business analysis training programs today. The diagram was of a lockset with all the tumblers around it. Each tumbler represented a skill set: facilitation, modelling, financials, decision making, etc. In the middle, where the key is placed to unlock the business analysis magic kingdom, was one word: communications. Whether verbal or written, formal or informal, the key to success is mastering your communications skills – something we can all do better.

Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It's also a powerful motivator. Yogi Berra Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts: No doubt the musicians applied the hard and soft skills of business analysis; the facilitation, documenting, integrating, and presenting requirements with a final outcome: the video recorded song (Pearl River In this case, a tribute to an important sponsor; someone who is a connector of people and who influenced the lives of many people professionally and personally, and knows how to get things done. A dream sponsor.

It is easy to talk or write about tools and techniques that you can use in business analysis. It is harder to communicate those professional and life experiences that make you abetter at what you do. I love the business analysis career where you get to define and solve problems, develop people and work on diverse initiatives. Working with a group of creative people from all walks of life and professions reminded me of the things that make teams great and great business analysis.

When you know what you are doing and why you are doing it, there is an endless opportunity to build your skills. You just never know when you are going to learn something that you can apply to your business, career and life to serve others. In the end, I think that’s what it is all about.

Remember, do your best, invest in the success of others and make your journey count. Richard.

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