BABOK Reading Tips

Five Ways To Make the BABOK an Irresistible Read

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo11

“Are you kidding me, Yamo?”

If that was one of the first thoughts that came to your mind when you saw this post, I wouldn’t be surprised.

A few business analysts think that the BABOK is really a dry read. Granted it maybe for various reasons. We will explore a few reasons why BABOK can be a dry reading and what to do about it by diving into the five ways to make the BOK talk to you.

After all BABOK is about showcasing a disciplined approach and framework to help businesses change effectively (and much more). And anything that entails discipline is not a gripping star wars trilogy to get you hooked from the first word to the last.

So, why do you think BABOK comes about as a dry read?

There are a few aspects of BABOK that makes the readers miss a few important elements in it. For e.g., not being able to relate to a few tasks, detailed explanation of a few tasks that you “think” that you never did, or just the overwhelm that you have to remember too much.

Reading and getting hooked to the BOK is an acquired taste. If you ever had the experience of trying out Sushi for the first time (you know the very thought of eating raw or semi-cooked fish can be a big turnoff) and transitioning from anxiety to actually eagerly looking forward to eating it – you will know exactly what I mean.

In this post, I would like to share five ways in which you can make the BABOK really interesting to read as a practitioner.

1. Understand the Practitioners Perspective of How the Knowledge Areas are Interrelated

One of the most useful components of “The Ultimate CBAP/CCBA Study Guide” is the WHW practitioners narrative that we also use in our CCBA/CBAP online prep courses and boot camps. This essentially translates to understanding how each of the knowledge area aligns to what we do as business analysis practitioners. According to BABOK V2.0, a Knowledge Area can be defined as:

Knowledge areas define what a practitioner of business analysis needs to understand and the tasks a practitioner must be able to perform.

and also important to emphasize that:

Knowledge areas are not intended to represent phases in a project.

So, what is the “WHW Narrative“?

When you look at the diagram below in the BABOK, you realize that there is an interrelationship between the different knowledge areas:

BABOK - Knowledge Areas Relationships

The WHW Narrative is looking at the relationship between knowledge areas via the following three questions and grouping the Knowledge Areas (KAs) to fall under them:

WWhat Does a BA Do? – These are the innermost KAs. The tasks that are part of these knowledge areas are “What” we do as business analysis practitioners (at the core of it).

HHow Does a BA Work? – These are the KAs surrounding the inner KAs. The tasks that are part of these knowledge areas are “How” we go about doing business analysis.

W Who is An Effective BA? – This is the underlying competencies KA. This is a unique knowledge area in the BABOK, in that it doesn’t have tasks, but only describes the skills, knowledge and personal traits required to be an effective business analysis practitioner. So, this defines “Who” an effective BA is.

So, our diagram above would look like as shown below:

BABOK - Knowledge Areas Relationships-WHW-Narrative

In Conclusion: Use this narrative to relate back a task to your practice. As you go through the different tasks in these knowledge areas, use the WHW practitioner’s narrative to help you see the trees and also the forest.

[Hat tip to one of our instructors, Jonathan Nituch to introduce part of this to me]

2. Open the Doors of Curiosity – The Secret to do it

When you read the BABOK, how can you create curiosity?

George Loewenstein, a professor at Carnegie Melon University, came up with what’s called “the information gap theory of curiosity,” and it’s, hands-down, one of the best ways to create curiosity on demand.

Quite simply, curiosity, as defined by Loewenstein, is an innate human behavior that’s triggered when people feel there is a gap between what they know and what they want to know. (Source – The Itch of Curiosity).

Loewenstein then goes on to explain how this gap influences people to take action (aka reading more, using information in BABOK, or performing better business analysis).

But the question remains: How can you do it?

Here is how: When you are reading the BABOK, a certain task for example, try and do the following two things to help you propel your curiosity:

I >; The form and shape in which you do this currently – introspective or retrospective curiosity.

II >; How can you do this better – prospective curiosity.

3. Use a Real-World Case Study (Past or Current)

Some of us just learn better using examples and something that we can relate to. If you have used wireframes, visuals of a screen, as part of your requirements package or event provided a written example of a mortgage loan calculator formula or amortization, you will know what I mean. This is one of the most well received add-on in “The Ultimate CBAP/CCBA Study Guide“.

Examples standout and help with greater understanding and make the study material more relatable. Sometimes your brain responds better to something that is more tangible. For example, if I use the following formula to tell you that force increases as mass and acceleration increases – it may makes sense.

F = m*a

[Force = (mass) times (acceleration) ]

However, if I tell you that a 100 kg ball falling from a height of 10 meters will create more damage than a 10 kg ball falling from a height of 1 meter (or same height) – you will be able to visualize the impact.

So, when you read the BABOK, as and when you are going through the different tasks create your own “fictitious” case study to relate the tasks to or you could pick your current project (or one from the past), to relate the tasks to.

4. Turn Headlines to Questions

The tasks and techniques in the BABOK have a standard repeating structure throughout. It is useful to convert these repeating elements into a set of questions that can help you understand the material better. One reason why this works better in comprehension is that, questions by nature pull you in better.

For example:

Techniques – could be “How to conduct stakeholder analysis?”

Stakeholders – could be “Who all could be potentially involved in this task?”

Elements (Slightly different) – could be “What are the key considerations to keep in mind?” and a self-directed question for every element:

What kind of project am I working on? (for ‘Type of project or initiative’)

How formal should my communication be? (for ‘Communication Formality’)

5. Plan to take up CCBA or CBAP Exam

After hopefully you’ve gone through and rationalized the “Why Should I do CCBA or CBAP?” question, you should consider prepping for the exam. One way to make the BABOK “irresistible” is to use the “fear of failure”. :)

So, when you have set your eyes on taking up the exam, you will be forced to study the BOK, and you will hopefully apply the first 4 ways of this post to make it an interesting read.

Which of these five would be your favorite way to make the BOK irresistible? Do you have any tips of your own to share?

Please use the comment space below to provide your comments, questions and feedback.


Featured Product -> The Ultimate BABOK® Kit

Unprecedented CBAP-CCBA Study Guide, BABOK eMindmap, eTables, BOK Cartoons, Audio and Video. The Ultimate All-in-One Study Aid is here.

Go to top

Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

5 Pillars of a great BA

With this E-book, you will learn about the five pillars of being a great Business Analyst!. Sign-up below for our eNewsletter and receive your FREE copy once the book is launched! Sign up, or learn more!

11 Responses to “Five Ways To Make the BABOK an Irresistible Read”

  1. Ulmas Pulatov says:

    Great article, Yamo!

    This should be THE article everyone should read before diving into BABOK – will definitely help them enjoy the time they spend reading it.

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks for the comments and kind words, Ulmas. I am glad you found this to be useful.

  2. As a Project Manager, this really helped me understand the framework for the BABOK. I appreciate the role of the BA on my project team and I want to better understand what they do and how they do it. Thank you for putting this article together!

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Hi Martin, thanks for the comment. It is indeed a great validation to get feedback from a PM. Also, thanks for the all the retweets earlier today.

  3. Katie Metcalfe says:

    Another irresistible article Yamo! Really like the WHW narrative piece.



  4. Muhammad Muzammil says:

    Must read for all BA wanna be……

  5. Aziz uddin Ahmed says:

    This is an excellent article.

  6. Prashanth Raju says:

    I would like to expand my network. I am also looking to write my CCBA. Could you help me out?

  7. […] 3 ->; Five Ways to Make BABOK an Irresistible Read […]

  8. nmbr1analyst says:

    This helped me tremendously!!! Thanks Yamo!

Leave a Reply

Previous post:

Next post: