the golden circle of ba toolkit templates skills part1

The Golden Circle of BA Toolkit – Part 1 of 2

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo2

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:

Learn about the “Golden Circle” and how great companies work from inside out of that circle. Going from Why to What to How. The concept revolves around the thought leadership and messaging approach utilized by some of the world’s most exciting leaders and brands – the Wright Brothers, Apple, and Martin Luther King Jr. – which, as Simon puts it, “starts with the why.” 
Apply this in your practice to understand the “Why” of a certain area of analysis. This concept could be applied both at macro (strategy) and  micro (detailed analysis) levels in an organization.
That’s applying the golden circle for how we can improve analysis…
As I started to think about a guiding principle that can help the BA community find a simple model or approach to advance the practitioners toolkit I came up with the narrative for the golden circle to help you advance yours and your organization’s BA capability. Luckily, this narrative is not trademarked by Simon (part of the reason why it went viral), so I was able to leverage and modify it. 
Can we extend the tenets of the circle to the BA toolkit? (yes, but with some changes)

Introducing the Golden Circle of BA Toolkit

In this post I’d like to introduce this idea to the BA community and get feedback and start building a framework around it. As you may all know knowledge is power, but in this day and age, knowledge that is shared is the real power. I look forward to you arguing, debating, accepting, acknowledging, bashing and loving it with all your might – that’s what we all do as business analysts after all. :)

Start with WHAT 

As we start building our golden circle, the first place to start is…

“WHAT is in your Toolkit?” [The Proverbial “As-Is” State]

Asking this question first is the foundation. This is the famous “AS-IS” analysis that we all know the importance of but sometimes overlook it. And do you recall the last project where no proper as-is analysis was done that resulted in unclear requirements (business, stakeholder and solution)?
That’s why this is a crucial first step.
There are three perspectives with which you can apply this question – as an individual practitioner, organization / requirements CoE and from the vantage point of the industry.
The Individual Practitioners Perspective
So, you’ve been practicing business analysis for a few years now (even without a formal title of a business analyst); you’ve always got things done. Your use cases get completed on time, your peer reviews are going as smooth as you like. OR maybe not; over the years of you feeling the need to improve your skills and knowledge maybe you’ve discovered that things could be better. Perhaps, you want to learn and use newer techniques and starting building your own better BA templates to help you along the way.
Example: You could start with a simple narrative such as: 
“As a BA WHAT I use currently (techniques, tools, templates) are – Use cases, wireframes, requirements workshops, surveys and structured walkthrough sessions.”
Organizational Practitioners Perspective
As an organization, you look at the overall toolkit that is being used in your organization currently. The requirements life cycle process, the business analyst templates, and the standard techniques encouraged and used by the BA community in your organization.
Example: As an organization X’s requirements CoE, we have a X requirements methodology. 
Industry Perspective 
What is the framework of performing analysis that exists in the industry today? This is where organizations that develop standards in the industry come in picture – the IIBAs, British Computing Society, PMI, etc.

“HOW are you doing what you do today?” [Messy Middle]

This is where you have to analyze how you perform analysis. If a personal bias sets in, then maybe seek help from a mentor, a senior practitioner or another organization that can guide you.  This is also what I call as “Messy Middle”, where there maybe many challenges to clearly articulate the problems or in some cases a sheer resistance to change. As practitioners of helping organizations change effectively, we should use our own skills to help us get through this.
Example: If you’re using use cases as a technique for a while, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. How do you currently create your use cases? [a high level process]
  2. Have there been any problems in the solution that trace to bad requirements?
  3. What specific areas of use cases have created problems?
  4. Do you have enough project metrics to be able to quantitatively assess the analysis work? 
So on and so forth… 

“WHERE do you want to take this?” [To-Be state]

This is your future state. After knowing “WHAT” you do, and “HOW” you do it, the next question you should yourself is “WHERE” to take your toolkit and capabilities. This can include additional training, or self-study to fill the gaps that you would have identified during the “HOW” analysis. 
In this first part I wanted to provide a brief introduction to ‘The Golden Circle of BA Toolkit’. 
There are some very insightful observations as we look at navigating through the different questions differently. In part 2 of this post we will look at how different individuals and organizations navigate these circles (and thereby the questions) with some examples; and how you can use the right direction to truly advance your BA toolkit, skills and competencies. 
Please share your thoughts, feedback and any questions that you may have in the comments space below. 
If you’re ready to read part 2 of this post please click here.
PS: For the purpose of novelty and some fun, below is the first diagram I drew for ‘The Golden Circle of BA Toolkit’ and my 3-year old trying to (quite successfully) replicate it :)
The Golden Circle of BA Toolkit First Diagram The Golden Circle of BA Toolkit – First Diagram

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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'. 

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2 Responses to “The Golden Circle of BA Toolkit – Part 1 of 2”

  1. Sarah says:

    Great insights here! It’s amazing how simple concepts like these can radically alter our perspective. I have watched Simon’s TED talk before, but never thought this could be extended to BA realm! Looking forward to part 2!

  2. […] the first part of this post, I introduced ‘The Golden Circle of Advancing Your BA Toolkit’, as a principle to help us […]

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