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Why I Do This

I was at a talk yesterday by American artist Lawrence Weiner. He spent half the time saying there was nothing he had to say about his art; the next half saying it.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Something he had to say really stuck with me: that art is all about creating a logical structure for viewing the world.  It helped me understand why I make my living doing two things that seem so disparate: visual art (painting) and Business Analysis.  There are many things I love about BA but the part I have the most passion for is visual modeling.  Perhaps it’s because of what Weiner pointed out: like art, it’s about creating a logical structure that communicates a way of seeing the world (or a part of it).  The types of models I am most interested in are referred to as logical models: the name itself gives away the connection to Weiner’s art objects.

I have never been much interested in the physical world – the world of gadgets and mechanical things; it’s always been the logical structures that underlie the real world (RW) that most interest me.  What I love about logical visual modeling is that it strips away those pesky physical details to focus on logical structures.  It turns out that this is a great boon to the BA.  If we focus on physical details there is very little common language between a business person and a  software developer. But if we talk model-talk (for example, using a visual language like the UML), well then we can have a nice discussion: we get each other.  

I’ve always been attracted to pursuits where you can get complex results but you only have to remember a few basic elements. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a lousy memory.  As a developer, I was a retro fan of Assembler. I’ve never lost my fascination for how its small set of basic instructions could be used to construct the most complex systems.  As a BA, I feel the same about the UML diagrams – especially class diagrams. Give me a few basic concepts modeling elements (generalization, association, ...) and I can model the most complex business system.  How cool is that?  

Howard Podeswa
His most recent book, The Business Analyst's Handbook may be purchased on,  and

posted @ Friday, March 13, 2009 6:23 PM by Howard Podeswa

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