The 21st Century BA: From Tactical Requirements Manager to Creative Leader of Innovative Change


I think the 21st century will be the century of complexity.
—Stephen W. Hawking

Welcome to the new series of articles on the BA as the 21st Century Creative Leader. It was a perfect storm. As we entered the second decade of the 21st century, we found ourselves struggling to adapt. All over the world, people faced environmental and economic turbulence, financial calamity, a stubborn recession that seemed to resist recovery, intractable societal troubles, high unemployment, increased poverty, and uncompromising complexity. The fiercely competitive global business ecosystem was changing so rapidly that we were confronted with complicated situations we had never seen before.

It is no coincidence that the business analysis profession is taking hold to address many of the 21st century business challenges. Business analysis is all about understanding the needs of organizations, helping them remain competitive, identifying creative solutions to complex business problems, bringing about innovation, and constantly adding value for the customer and revenue to the organization. My fear is that the business analyst will remain a tactical, project-focused role for too long, and organizations around the world will not leverage the often underestimated and undervalued creative talent that is bottled up in our business analyst workforce.

Creative Leadership – What’s All the Fuss About?
We know that creative leaders are top performers, but how are they different? It is becoming obvious that we need creative leaders from all levels organizations to capitalize on complexity and use it as a competitive advantage, not just one or two individuals at the top who are leading the way à la Steve Jobs. CEOs of leading companies lament the fact that they do not have the creative leaders that are needed.

Where is the cadre of creative leaders going to come from? Could business analysts become the creative leaders we need to spark innovation? To be sure, they work with teams and individuals at all levels of their organizations. Our 21st century challenge is this: to arm business analysts with the knowledge, skill, credibility, and confidence needed to awaken creativity throughout their organizations. We can then calm the storm, at least as it affects our businesses, and look ahead to a dramatic increase in the number of innovative changes set in motion through expertly facilitated creative sessions.

Creative Leadership – Is it Embodied in the Business Analyst?
What should business analysts be doing to hone their creative aptitude and to foster imagination and originality in their organizations? Business analysts can participate in the development of creative leaders across their organizations by deepening partnerships with their stakeholders, especially employees and customers. As they focus on relationships, business needs, operational agility—the hallmark of business analysis—BAs can focus on innovation at every turn and instill a universal understanding that everyone is creative. To accept the challenge, business analysts need to learn to be courageous, prepared, and willing to make deep changes to their organizations’ business change model and to their approach to business requirements.

Creative Leadership – It’s a Team Sport
Project leadership is no longer just about the project manager or even just about the project manager and the business analyst. Combining disciplines leads to success, and complex 21st century projects should be led by a highly seasoned, multitalented team consisting of strategic thinkers and creativity enthusiasts. The complex project leadership team ought to comprise the best resources available, including experienced and creative project managers, business analysts, solution architects and developers, and business visionaries. This leadership team collaboratively makes managerial and technical decisions about how to capitalize on the complexities they face to foster creativity.

Who Will Benefit from Reading This Series?
This series presents a new model for all members of project leadership teams in general, and business analysts specifically, to learn how to capitalize on complexity. We will delve deep into the behaviors of business analysts in their functions as expert facilitators and creative leaders and offer guidance not just on managing complexity, but also on leveraging it as a competitive advantage. In addition to business analysts, this series is an important resource for project, program, and portfolio managers; solution architects; business process owners and managers; functional managers; senior IT technologists, BA consultants and BA Practice leads.

How This Series Is Structured
The articles are adapted with permission from The Enterprise Business Analyst: Developing Creative Solutions to Complex Business Problems by Kathleen B. Hass, PMP. © 2011 by Management Concepts, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Enterprise Business Analyst: Developing Creative Solutions to Complex Business Problems. The series consists of 14 articles published in succession as outlined below:

Article #1: It’s a New World for the BA: We need to Grow up Fast!

Article #2: The Adaptive Business Analyst: As Complexity Increases, the BA Adapts

Article #3: Creative Leadership: What’s All the Fuss About?

Article #4: How Capable/Proficient  Do Business Analysts Need to be to Ignite Creativity?

Article #5: Building a Mature, Innovation-Driven Business Analysis Practice

Article #6: Fostering Team Creativity: The Business Analyst’s Sweet Spot

Article #7: Igniting Creativity in Complex Distributed Teams

Article #8: Creativity-Inducing Facilitation: the Same but Different

Article #9: Creatively Eliciting and Evolving Breakthrough Requirements

Article #10: Developing Products for Competitive Advantage

Article #11: Strategies to Foster Innovation: not settling for Business as Usual

Article #12: Communication Strategies to Enable Innovation

Article #13: Innovation-Driven Portfolio Management

Article #14: The Business Analysis Center of Excellence: The Cornerstone of Business Transformation and Innovation

About the Author

Kathleen B. (Kitty) Hass, PMP
Senior Practice Consultant
Kathleen Hass & Associates, Inc.
[email protected]
Twitter: @ BA_Assessment

Kitty is the president of her consulting practice specializing in enterprise business analysis, complex project management, and strategy execution through portfolio management. She is a prominent presenter at industry conferences, author and facilitator. Her BA Assessment Practice is the gold standard because her assessments:

  • Appraise both BA organizational maturity and individual/workforce BA capability based on four-stage reference models

  • Present results that are continuously examined for reliability and validity by Lori Lindbergh, PhD, Senior Researcher and Psychometrician , LORIUS, LLC

  • Benchmark results against a global data base of BAs performing comparable work

  • Align with the IIBA BABOK® and the BA Competency Model®

  • Align with standards and best practices for quality and fairness in educational and psychological assessment

  • Are based on the skills and knowledge needed to work successfully on the complexity of current project assignments

  • Examine critical relationships between competency, project complexity, and project outcomes.

In addition to assessments, Kitty’s expertise includes implementing and managing PMOs and BACOEs, coaching critical project teams, and managing large complex programs. She has over 25 years of experience providing professional services to Federal agencies, the intelligence community, and Fortune 500 companies. Kitty is a Director on the IIBA Board and Chair of the IIBA Board Nominations Committee. She has authored numerous white papers and articles on leading-edge business practices, the renowned series entitled, Business Analysis Essential Library, and the PMI Book of the Year, Managing Project Complexity - A New Model. Follow Kitty and Lori on their blog at and on twitter @ BA_Assessment. 

[i] IBM Institute for Business Value, Capitalizing on Complexity, Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study. (2010, Somers, NY)

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Amjad Shaikh posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 10:21 AM
Recommended reading!!
Travis Barker MPA GCPM posted on Monday, December 3, 2012 12:24 AM
Thanks for the article.

It was an interesting read.

I enjoyed your points on the role of the analyst to facilitate and support the integration of the key drivers for change. When corporations are facing the obstacles that necessitate change the previous systems, processes, practices, and structures in place often constraint the analysis of what leverage points exist.

One of the key drivers is to identify the barriers created by these four components to implementing the necessary change and identifying the new systems, processes, practices, and structures.

The innotative business model in high tech industries are the most likely to benefit from a formal business analyst role whereas less innovative, and captured markets, would likely resume the business as usual approach to management, after change was achieved, until the next upturn or downturn in the business cycle.

Change that is initiated internally enhances the corporation's viability in a dynamic and ever changing "product" environment. In contrast, strategically designed stability measures aid viability in a less dynamic and increasingly saturated "service" environment. Both environments would benefit from the formal analyst role, although as you mention, the assets that are associated with this role as less often leveraged than the globally competitive business environment would suggest.

Thanks again,

Travis Barker, MPA GCPM
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