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Much has been written about hard skills, the tangible techniques that support good business analysis. Less has been written about soft skills, the intangible behavior of the effective business analyst. The lack of development in this area of good analyst behavior represents a real opportunity for discussion and improvement for many business analysts.
These soft skills are a distinguishing characteristic of most effective people - and analysts are people too! It is our work with people - not systems - where our greatest opportunities lie.
All of the analytical training and experience in the world would be for nothing if we didn’t acknowledge and embrace our ability to influence others and the success of the project with our behavior. Modeling effective behavior to the project team is the single most effective cost-free means to improving our work product.
Model what an effective business analyst looks like
Team players have distinct and defined roles. It is important to understand the theory behind these specialized roles and appreciate the benefit that your BA role and all other roles bring to the process. Show that you know the scope of your role – stay solution agnostic, impartial and service oriented to the team.
Team players stay in their roles and remind others to do the same
While it is tempting to experience what other roles do, remember that in baseball, a first baseman rarely catches a ball in deep center field. In business, you are needed to be at your position – stay there and take care of your post. Others will appreciate this and will stay firmly in their role as you vacate areas of concern belonging to them. Those who don’t naturally stay in their prescribed role will pick up on your shift in behavior and change accordingly, as you lead by example.
Support out-of-the-box thinking and INSIST on divergent points of view
This is where the BA behavior interaction provides incredible benefit and supports the greatest exchange of knowledge. Encourage and reward your teammates for being constructively contrary.
You are the host and emcee of the meeting
Take care of the details and always be on your best behavior, which means to be:
· Charming - it never hurts!
· Funny, when all else fails
Lead by example
· While others swirl, you focus – provide an agenda and stick to it
· While others rush to the middle, you start at the beginning
· Be relentless in your role
· It is NOT about being the smartest person in the room
· It IS about being the most ENGAGED person in the room
· Act like you own the analysis – because you do
Provide service and value
Experience the honor that comes with serving others. This may be a new concept for some. Servant leadership is a powerful influence on the behavior of others.
Subject Matter Expert (SME) vs. Business Analysis Expert
The bigger SME your customer is, the more they need you NOT to be. The last thing a group of gurus needs is another guru. They have their expertise, certainly, and you have yours. You are the SME of ANALYSIS – show it through the use of your advanced methods, effective behavior and superior work product.
When tasked with the difficult and challenging project, envision yourself supported by the power of structured decomposition from the first article as you model the engaging, prepared and appropriate behaviors discussed in this article.
Unstoppable analytical decomposition combined with model behavior creates an aura of professional competency that is infectious. Others will not only notice - but will readily emulate - the qualities you demonstrate as you service the needs of the project.
in this series: Communicating Understanding as well as