The world’s changing at a rapid pace and our professional skill-sets are being challenged to stay ahead of the tide. As Business Analysts we have to keep finding fresh ways to ensure we deliver value and drive meaningful change. Innovation but more importantly – the creativity that enables it – is crucial to modern business analysis. No matter the country, niche, age or variables that affect the organization.
I often look to the world around me to inspire and influence my thinking so when we recently started the search to find a suitable daycare for our one-year-old I was excited to see if I could take anything from the experience and apply it back on the job! I wasn’t disappointed!
For the most part, the typical class routine includes a variation of free play, story-time, art, eating and naps. I was silently jealous cause it looked like a decent way to spend your day. However, I quickly realized the day-care schedule could serve as a pretty robust framework of FUNdamentals for not only BA’s to consider but analysis practitioners in general.
Story thinking in business is a great passion of mine and a skill I think is often undervalued. There’s a certain magic in a good story and throughout history, those who understood this changed the world. Think of Churchill, Steve Jobs, Obama and even Mandela to name a few.
Narrative helps give meaning and context to the world around us and by using some of the ideas that guide a good story we can gain a fresh perspective on not only the work we do but also how we go about it!
I think more than knowledge workers we are people workers. It’s about connection and experience and story thinking makes that possible.
Research tells us that stories are more effective at changing people’s minds than rational argument and we’d be crazy to ignore that. Good stories beat good spreadsheets any day of the week!
Things to Explore: strategic storytelling, creative writing
You only need one look at the creations of @sketchingsm to understand the power of visual communication. Obviously, Talia is on a different level but art and drawing play a crucial part in the day of most BA’s and you don’t need to be the next Picasso to leverage its power.
A large part of our responsibility as advisors come down to making sense of complex systems and ideas and presenting that understanding back to others. Through some creativity, we can easily “level-up” the typical deliverables we produce.
A dash of colour, a whiteboard canvas and a little less concern with notation can turn a seemingly boring BPMN diagram into a medium that effectively frames our thinking and excites the intended audience to engagement. The same is true for context diagrams, process flows and traceability matrices.
Things to Explore: sketchnoting, visual facilitation
💡 Eating and Naps
“Mens sana in corpore sano”. The Latin phrase translates to “a healthy body hosts a healthy mind” and expresses the idea that “self-maintenance” is crucial if you want to be at your best.
Our profession inherently requires us to think outside of the box and come up with novel solutions to the problems our organisations and customers face – no easy feat. It’s even harder to get right if you are a walking zombie, skipping meals or at risk of fainting after climbing a few stairs.
The idea that time spent being unproductive actually has a huge impact on the time that you spend being productive, is counter-intuitive but true. Most modern knowledge workers (and those they report to) tremble at the thought of giving their team some time off or allowing them flexible hours in order to hit the gym. Downtime and taking care of yourself is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of productivity.
I’m not advocating laziness but there are simple things you can do to ensure you are fresh and fighting fit every day. Stop eating at your desk, skip the vending machine snacks, take a walk outside and put down your phone after dark to ensure you get a good night’s rest. Your team and stakeholders will thank you for it!
Things to Explore: meditation and mindfulness, the park near your office
💡 Free Play
Free play refers to unstructured, voluntary activity that allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them. Even though it’s a topic more commonly found in early childhood development circles I think it’s a worthwhile consideration for adults in professional industries as well.
I am all about ticking boxes but I’ve learned the hard way that being busy is a trap. We wear it like a badge of honour but we need time to mess around – to do things for the hell of it – unplugging and not working on “work”.
Those important eureka moments rarely come from an incremental todo-list clearing mentality; actively taking our foot off the gas affords us the time to learn new things or sometimes just observe without an obligation to do something with it.
Things to Explore: daydreaming, the cyberpunk movement, acro-yoga, pi projects
We might not be in kindergarten anymore but it doesn’t mean we should deprive ourselves of the things we used to do and enjoy naturally as kids. Life is serious business and a little creativity might be just what you and your team need to survive the next project or initiative.
Jéan is a keen conversationalist and part-time alchemist who serves as a facilitator, analyst and advisor to businesses and the technology that it enables.
He made the jump from the dark side (software development) in 2012 to pursue his passion for the analysis profession. His current adventure is in payments and financial services but Jéan has experience in a variety of domains including manufacturing, retail and higher education. He believes building good products is difficult and business analysis holds the key to real business value in end-to-end project success.
Besides a postgraduate in Computer and Mathematical Sciences from NWU, he is a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), holds a Diploma in Sports Management from UNISA and is currently working towards his CBAP® certification.
Outside the confines of the workplace, accompanied by his lovely wife and one-year-old son, you will find him with a football at his feet or a book in his hand. Jéan believes in second chances, big fires and better stories!
Jéan will be presenting at Business Analysis Summit 2018, his topic is ‘Campfire BA – Story Thinking as a Strategic Enabler’ and he will be presenting on the 2nd of October. FTI is a gold sponsor of the summit for the 6th time and is looking forward to meeting past as well as future students.
Jéan is a past student of FTI, he attended the following courses over his career so far;