Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo

In the first part of this post, I introduced ‘The Golden Circle of Advancing Your BA Toolkit’, as a principle to help us elevate the business analysis toolkit. If I were to summarize and crystallize this principle I would say:
“This is a principle of starting with WHAT you or your organization use as existing skills, tools, techniques and BA templates, analyzing HOW you do it through the various BA assessments and determining WHERE you want to take it with the rights steps and setting the required key performance indicators or critical success factors”
In this post, I want to extend this definition and focus on the importance of directionality of the traverse
What does it mean to ask the right question in the right order at the right time?

The Direction of Real Progress [Proactive]

When I introduced the golden circle for BA toolkit, I had emphasized the importance of starting with “WHAT“.  There will be unforeseen consequences when there is no accurate and actionable snapshot of the “AS-IS” state.
When you start with “WHAT” you are taking a proactive approach. You’ve taken a step back to gain a perspective that helps you see the current state of your skills, capabilities, tools, techniques and templates. Once you get a grip, you move on to the “HOW” to compare, contrast and understand where you can (and want to) take your AS-IS state of the toolkit; extending your detailed assessment. And when you know the “HOW” in a sufficient level of detail, you move to the “WHERE” to act on the gaps.
This is the direction of real progress! This is you (or your organization) being proactive. 
If we extend the example of use cases that we used in part 1 of this post, once you know that you predominately use use cases as a technique to document your requirements, and gain an understanding of the gaps that exist in “HOW” you do it, you decide to fill the gaps through a training course, mentoring or self-study – to specifically focus on the gaps.
This is the inside out direction of real progress and advancement.

The Direction of Quick Fixes and Broken Promises [Reactive] 

Now, what do you think happens if we flip the direction? 
What happens if you start with “WHERE” and work towards “WHAT”?
Let’s see… 
You or your organization is presented with a random BA course through a big and reputable training organization. The course is developed by an “expert BA” who was practicing 25 years ago but has many impressive diagrams and huge thick training material. The intent of the training is obviously to improve the capability and skills of the business analysts (and elevate the practice) in the organization. The direction of “WHERE” you’ll be able to take your toolkit is defined by the objectives of the training course. 
You enjoy the luncheon, the ambience and the company. Company-sponsored training always has some magical ways of generating a rush of endorphins. 
And… you got the much need break from work and ….. so did your BA toolkit!
You now come back from your training course with a supposedly stronger “HOW” you can improve your analysis to improve “WHAT” you do. 
If you appreciate the importance of requirements and objectives traceability, you’ll quickly realize that the traceability cord was cut too soon. Right after the WHERE! 
So, you get the idea.

The Key Takeaway for You (and Your Organization)

If you want to enhance your capability as an individual or organization, you should aspire to start with “WHAT”, by performing a thorough as-is analysis of what’s in your BA toolkit. Followed by understanding (with specifics) “HOW” you’re doing what you’re doing and the deciding “WHERE” to take your toolkit. 
Don’t let a mentor or a big BA training company let you decide how you need to improve. Be proactive about who you engage with; or even better, create custom in-house training. Nobody knows you or your organizations challenges better than you! 
One of the key principles in advancing yourself as a professional is finding out what your blindspots are and doing everything it takes to address them. If you ever need external help to unravel these blindspots, hire a professional services organization that has genuine interest in advancing business analysis, and puts the interest of the community (and your organization) first. 
I hope these insights and ideas will help you to advance your BA toolkit.
Now, go start with WHAT and best of luck doing that! 
Please use the comment space below to share your feedback, thoughts or any questions you may have.
Are you ready to have a paradigm shift in how you can advance your BA toolkit?
Let me first introduce you to the original golden circle by Simon Sinek in his TED talk (second most watched TED talk of all-time) that distilled into a detailed manifesto in his book “Start with Why”. In an earlier post I had listed this as one of the seven books that business analysts must listen to
Here’s a little take away for Business Analysts from this book:

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The Business Analyst Coach Podcast Artwork

In this episode, it was my pleasure to interview Alaeddin Hallak, from Saudi Arabia. He brought forward some amazing insights into some common challenges faced by business analysts. He also presents a unique angle of how business analysis is perceived in that part of the world.  In continuing with the tradition of learning from experienced and expert BA practitioners from around the globe, Alaeddin and I discuss some key aspects of advancing your career. We had recorded this interview long time ago, and were unable to publish it due to the audio file having challenges; however, we were able to successfully repair and restore the original recording. There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learnt from his experience and insights. Here is Alaeddin:

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BA Templates mistakes

Seven Deadly BA Templates Sins

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo2

Are you a business analyst who is jaded with the statistics of how poor requirements are #1 cause of failure in projects? 
And to your utter delight this theory and statistics repeats every year. 
According one of the many statistics the #1 cause of failure of projects is due to requirements… In one particular CIO analysis for example, the number was as high as 37%.
So, specifically the top cause of project failure is due to: 
Requirements: Unclear, lack of agreement, lack of priority, contradictory, ambiguous, imprecise.
In this post, I am not proposing that having the right BA templates  will help an analyst communicate requirements clearly and solve this problem and elevate us to the sainthood of project and business success. However, you’ll see factors and practices that trace back to some of these elements that causes project failures. 

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The first thought that’s on your mind probably is why is there a post about the New Year in Feb? Here are some statistics why … 
According statistics published by statisticbrain.com, on average about 65% of the people make New Years resolution in some form or shape. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions… so, this mean that by merely being deliberate about your resolutions and writing your goals down, you increase your chances of attaining them. 
After the first month, more than 50% of the people have abandoned their New Year resolution! This is about the right time when they would need a little push. Or I consider Feb to be the drama-free month when you can really focus on important goals that you want to accomplish.
So, what’s this push and how can you ensure that your goals remain in sight and achievable? 
What’s the secret of setting and attaining goals? 

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