Soft Skills

Nov 23, 2020
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Study after study in behavioral science show that certain approaches are more effective than others when we’re trying to convince others to see things our way.  Leaders in many industries, including the public sector, have learned the wisdom of using the latest evidence of what influences behavior and applying those insights to solve practical issues.  As a result, behavioral insights have now been successfully used to convince people to reduce their energy consumption, contribute a larger amount to their retirement fund, eat healthier food, and more.

Oct 04, 2020
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Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a profound difference. Sometimes they can be so blindingly obvious that we cannot see them. And the biggest impediment to progress can be between our own ears.

In this article I will describe ‘attentive listening’. We will cover how to do it, why it works and when to do it. At all times we will bear in mind the Agile manifesto commitment to maximizing the amount of work not done – not done by us, by the teams we work with and by the stakeholder!

Listening is a cornerstone skill of business analysis. If an analyst is to be of any value then they must be alert to clues in the environment. What thoughts, frustrations and opportunities are there? Understanding what is said, is an absolutely fundamental part of any analysis in order to produce useful insight or alignment.

So, you listen already? Sure you do, yet what are you listening to? The whole of what the speaker has to say? Are you giving them a chance to finish their thoughts?

Sep 20, 2020
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In the simplest explanation of the term, a UX writer is an author who writes for user experience. When using a digital product, you follow text in order to obtain the user experience you’re after. This text should be precise, brief, and straight to the point. The writer’s goal is to guide the user through the different stages of product use.

The term gets mixed up with technical writing and copywriting. The difference is that UX writing is much more concise.  An effective copy results from the collaboration between the writer and the entire design team.

Let’s start with the specifics: how can you improve your UX writing skills and contribute towards an improved final product?

Jun 28, 2020
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When I began training to be a BA, I never dreamt that I would need to be a salesperson too, in fact, I'm glad I hadn't realized that as it may have deterred me from, what is for me, the most suitable and fulfilling career that I could have wished for.

The answer is simply this: the ability to sell. The better you are at selling, the more senior you are likely to become, and this is true across the whole business, it doesn’t just apply to Business Analysts.

Apr 29, 2020
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 “Clean Language” is a conversation technique developed by a psychotherapist, David Grove. It is a method of asking neutral questions to avoid influencing patient responses. Besides psychotherapy, clean language can be used in various fields for interviewing and facilitating meetings with stakeholders. This is particularly true for business analysis. The context of this article is interviewing and facilitating meeting with a focus on using clean language to ensure that stakeholder requirements are captured without the influence of the business analyst. In this article, you will note that I have cited several sidebar comments to help the reader connect the dots with various business analysis aspects.
Jan 26, 2020
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Step one is get knowledge, step two: redesign for effectiveness then, lastly, step three, pull in IT. It is to start from a base of knowing what IT can do to support a more effective design, the costs of development drop to tens of thousands and everything developed gets used – an amazing feat in IT development. And the benefits delivered by the IT system are significant: Real-time visibility of the work, accurate information about demand and activity times, costs and materials employed.
Jan 12, 2020
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Learning about mental models and how to apply them to their work is one of the best investments for business analysts interested in achieving the level of deep thinking that leads to better outcomes for their projects and organizations.  There is incredible power in using inversion at the outset of a project to imagine ourselves in a future where the solution has not only been delivered, but is in the hands of end-users to get their job done. Rather than simply going through the typical project phases in forward motion, we can then look backward and gain additional perspective into what might go wrong so that preventive steps can be taken to avoid those bad outcomes.

Dec 22, 2019
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In Part 1 of this series John Seddon argued that Agile, as practiced, is bereft of knowledge, hence its ubiquitous failure. Here he argues that ‘get knowledge’ is the starting-place for effective change.

Part 2: Knowledge: the prerequisite for profound change

It may seem heretical to suggest that we make change without knowledge, but, as Deming pointed out, experience is not equivalent to knowledge; you can spend 20 years in an organisation without knowing how to change it for the better. Leaders, clients and stakeholders describe requirements or problems to solve on the basis of their current world view, governed by information from their current control systems, but what if their world view is flawed? What if there are bigger and different problems to solve?

Nov 03, 2019
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Learning about mental models and how to apply them to their work is one of the best investments for business analysts interested in achieving the level of deep thinking that leads to better outcomes for their projects and organizations. The first article in this series described what mental models are and talked about the first mental model covered, second order thinking. In this second installment we discuss another mental model that that can help business analysts become better problem solvers: integrative thinking.
Sep 08, 2019
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Learning about mental models and how to apply them to their work is one of the best investments for business analysts interested in achieving the level of deep thinking that leads to better outcomes for their projects and organizations.
Sep 02, 2019
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For the business, it means they not only need to understand the problem the customers are trying to solve - they need to understand that problem in a context and design a full end-to-end experience of solving it. Some people call this process “human-centered design”, some - just using common sense when designing stuff. 
Jul 21, 2019
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The fact that software projects and tasks are reported to be “90 percent done” for a long time has become something of an industry joke. (A related joke states that the first half of a software project consumes the first 90 percent of the resources, and the second half consumes the other 90 percent of the resources.) This well-intentioned but misleading status tracking makes it difficult to judge when a body of work will truly be completed so you can ship the next product release to your customers. Here are several typical causes of “90 percent done” syndrome and a few possible cures.

Jun 09, 2019
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The ability to build and exude self-confidence can contribute to success in many areas of our lives from personal to professional. Unfortunately, many business analysts who are beginners or experienced but new to an organization are not provided with the tools and recourses to be confident in their ability to add value to their organization. As a BA, self-confidence facilitates the ability to build relationships, gain respect, and influence others. Below are some of the most effective tactics that I have taken throughout my career to bolster my confidence as a business analyst. Once I became confident in myself, I started noticing that other people’s confidence in my abilities increased as well. Hopefully, these tips will help you recognize your true potential and the value you bring as a business analyst.
May 27, 2019
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Culture clashes frequently arise when teams are working on requirements. There are those who recognize the many risks associated with trying to develop software based on minimal or telepathically communicated requirements. Then there are those who think requirements are unnecessary. It can be tough to gain business-side cooperation on projects like legacy-system replacement if users see this as unrelated to their own business problems and not worth their time. Understanding why people resist participating in requirements development is the first step to being able to address it.

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Sometimes I find it difficult to explore new pieces of work in a structured way. When given a new challenge / piece of work it’s easy to jump straight into a solution. However as BAs we first need to understand the problem area better.
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