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3 Trends Business Analysts Can’t Ignore from Agile2017

August 2017- By Kupe Kupersmith

With our ever evolving technology landscape and continuously changing methodologies and processes in how we approach projects and partner with clients, it’s vital that professionals are involved with a local Business Analysis (IIBA) community and/or conference. It’s often difficult to break away from work for conferences like Agile2017 (Agile Alliance’s premier event), so we asked Kupe Kupersmith, one of our Toolbox Talk Speakers, to capture key trends and highlights from the event! Here are his three takeaways for Business Analysts.

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Trend #1 – Front line decision-making is vital to success!

David Marquet was the Captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear submarine. By taking command of this vessel, he learned more about leadership than any combination of classes. He told a lot of great stories that lead to his belief that Leadership is not for the few at the top. Old school thoughts of the leaders at the top making all the decisions and giving direction need to retire. Rather, decisions need to be in the hands of people doing the work.

Leaders cannot know everything about everything and be everywhere. Leaders today need to empower their teams to think and react based on what is happening in the moment and not rely on the leader at the top to make all the decisions. Give your team members more autonomy and control by giving them ownership to help clarify their goals and how they do their jobs.

Trend #2 – A Socratic Questioning Method can help determine “the real need.”

A big highlight was Kent McDonald and Heather Mylan-Mains talk. Full disclosure: they are dear friends of mine and we collaborate on a lot of stuff. Regardless, the topic of ‘Questions to Ask’ is one that is frequently on the minds of many in the Business Analyst profession.

By teaching attendees Socratic Questioning, they were giving them an approach to get to the true need for a project. Heather told a story about speed bumps being installed in a neighborhood because a young boy was hit by a car. The problem was speeding was not the issue. Lighting was a issue. How often are you building speed bumps when you should be building light posts?

Here are the 7 question topics they suggested for determining “the real need:”

  1. What is the project? Great question to get the conversation started!
  2. When did you realize you needed to do this project? Ask for scenarios to find out what's happening. You want to make sure you know what happened that sparked this idea for a project.
  3. What problem is this trying to solve? This one could cause uncomfortable silence. A team may not know the answer. That can be revealing. If they can't come to an answer, maybe the project is not worth it.
  4. What is the impact to your organization? Ask this to help determine prioritization and understanding if the problem is worth solving.
  5. How much is that problem costing your organization? Is it big or small - how much should we spend to fix the problem?
  6. How should tomorrow look after we've solved the problem? What does success look like? You may be able to fix the problem another way or with less effort.
  7. What are the next steps? - What else do we need to move forward? Do we need more information? Do we create a business case, etc.?

Trend #3 – Business Analysis is NOT dead.

Amy Silberbauer from IBM had a session titled, ‘Do we still need Business Analysts and Systems Engineers? Now more than ever!’ That got my attention!

One of the main reasons for needing people with business analysis experience is that enterprise success is not just about faster delivery. It is about being faster in making a happy customer and satisfying their problems and goals. Basically, you want to deliver fast stuff that makes customers happy, not just deliver fast stuff that won’t actually benefit them. Amy uses the term “time to happy customer” instead of “time to achieving value”. In the end, the goal is a happy customer. Value can be different for different groups. This is a way to address success at a higher level.

In today’s environment, we need designers and engineers to build the system, but a prominent challenge in doing so continues to be competing and disconnected interests and needs. This is where Business Analysts are vital to “time to happy customer,” as they can help design a unified vision and goals that sets designers and engineers up for success in delivering a product/system they need and will actually use! Business Analysts are the synthesis of information and connecting the dots to design a complete system.

As the founder of KupeTalks and Atlanta Engagement Director, Market Rate Consulting, Kupe’s main objective is to help you connect, collaborate, and be ready for the future. For the past 20 years Kupe has been helping organizations achieve business value with an improvisational advantage.

Kupe is an author, keynote speaker, coach and a trained improv actor. Some think Broccoli & Cheetos is an odd combination, but you will be delighted with Kupe’s combination of laughter and learning. Kupe is a connector and has a goal in life to meet everyone! So, drop what you’re doing and connect with him on LinkedIn now. Why are you still reading this…connect with Kupe?!

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