The road leads toward creativity

For millennia we were farm workers, then for centuries we were factory workers, and for decades we have been knowledge workers. The industrial revolutions shape how we work.

In our society, the rate of change is accelerating.

And in the world of business change, it’s happening too. The way forward, the approach that works best, has switched up a gear. Instead of relying on information, systems and logic, effective business analysis now requires innovation, empathy, and meaning.

In this blog, we’re working together to solve a set of related problems: how to get your ideas heard, how to make the impact you seek, how to improve the world around you.

There isn’t a pre-defined roadmap—no simple step-by-step process. But what I can promise you is a lighthouse: a guiding beacon. A recursive approach that will get better the more we use it.

This blog is a journey of discovery, one that involves learning lessons around shared ideas. It’s about business analysts challenging themselves to go deeper, to share their experiences and to challenge each other to see what truly works.

As you progress, don’t hesitate to backtrack on a belief, to question an existing practice, to experience it another way—you can reflect, adjust and try.

Business analysis is one of our highest callings. It’s the work of making positive change. I’m stoked that you’re on this journey with me, and I hope you’ll find the tools you need here.

Team tryouts

Testing is one of the best groundings a business analyst can get, as it puts you on the receiving end. Be a tester, but leave before it makes you too soft.

Project management will give you the impetus to help you get over the crutch of analysis paralysis. Be a project manager, but leave before it makes you too hard.

Total business analysis

Total football is a tactical theory in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in the team.

It’s a system in which no one (except the goalkeeper) has a fixed, predetermined role; anyone can successively play as a striker, a midfielder and a defender, and whenever a player moves out of a position their space is backfilled by another from their team.

It’s versatile, and it’s fluid, and it ensures that the team keeps its shape — that it maintains it’s intended organisational structure.

This system was made famous by The Netherlands during the 1974 World Cup.

And at Ajax, Dennis Bergkamp was schooled in the philosophy of Total Football and he benefited, as a striker, from the experience of playing as a defender and as midfielder enormously, as it helped him to “know how they think, and how to beat them,”.

It’s the same for you on the project pitch.

Your knowledge, your skills, and your abilities allow for versatility. To fluidly work within the project organisation. You backfill many positions: as a business analyst, as a project manager, as a test analyst. And other positions too.

This flexibility is a key strength. It helps you to get into your stakeholders’ shoes, to know how they think and how you can serve them.

But the Dutch didn’t win the 1974 World Cup. And total business analysis is only getting you so far.

Not scribing, not bridging, not shameful…

Business analysis has changed, but our understanding of what we’re supposed to do next hasn’t caught up.

When it doubt, we awkwardly translate. When in a corner, we fill in a template, completing proforma specifications instead of broadening the contribution. When pressed, we assume we know the users’ requirements better than they do, remaining uninformed.

Mostly, we remember growing up in an IT systems world, where computers and their functions defined us. As business analysts, we seek to repeat the old-fashioned tricks that don’t work anymore.