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Craig Brown
Craig Brown

3 Guaranteed ways to become a better BA

speedboat image by Brooks Elliott CC at Flickr
In recent years I have done three things which have really ‘ramped up’ my performance at work. 
In my readings online, in books and journals I have learned that there is serious researchedevidence that these three things are possible some of the best ways to improve your skills and ability at work (particularly in a thinking job like ours.)
These three things are relatively cheap, the tools are only a click or two away right now and only take a small amount of time on an ongoing basis.
And I am going to tell you what they are for free.
But before I do I have to warn you that most of you won’t be able to achieve this cheap and easy path to career success. 
Most of you (research suggests over 95% of you) simply won’t have the motivation and desire to take the first step. Why is that? Probably because complacency and inertia are powerful forces. 
I have a close friend who is both very smart and creative. But he has a lousy McJob which bores and frustrates him (as well as not paying very much.) But no matter how much I try to convince him to use his smarts, charm and wit to move onto something more rewarding he simply refuses to budge, following the patters and routines he has for years. That’s a shame for him. And possibly it’s also a shame for you.
The good news is that you are reading this. 
To have gone to and sought out information on how to improve your career puts you in that 5% of people who really are going to try to do better.
But five minutes browsing does not make you a top-gun BA. You’ll need to make a personal commitment to yourself; to change and to do the activities it takes to change.
Are you up for it? 
Great! Keep reading.
These three things are all based on research from psychology and neuroscience, as well as being observations that managers and trainers have had over the last few years (decades?) 
They are based upon a few principles that you are probably already familiar with.
  • We learn better in groups
  • Public speaking is scary because we don’t want to look silly
  • Teaching is the best form of learning
Do these phrases ring true with you? If not, maybe take an hour or two to go research these ideas online. 
Or you can quit now. Your choice.
If you are still with me, I’m ready to tell you my three very special secrets to mastery of the BA profession, and then explain briefly to you how each one will help.
  1. Participate actively on forums like Modern Analyst & Sign up to a few message groups in your field
  2. Start your won blog (or blog here at ModernAnalyst) and do it on a regular basis
  3. Find someone to mentor or coach
Stop for a moment and reflect on these recommendations.
Do you feel vague hints of “yes that‘s a good idea, but how do I start?”
Fine. We can work with that.
Let me explain a bit further.
1. Participate
Participating with groups such as Modern Analyst (and maybe a local or regional BA community) expands your horizons and introduces you to new ways of thinking. 
Also discussing ideas means you learn from the conversation. And by that I don’t mean you turn up and read/listen. I mean you participate. Put up straw man ideas for discussion, or ask questions if you don’t have a strong opinion on a topic.
At the very least you have one question you want to know the answer to. “How can I best tackle tomorrow’s work activity?”
Ask this one a few times and you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll want to discuss.
2. Blog
Blogging achieves some of the benefits of community participation, but develops other skills also. Forums and meetings are conversations where ideas are exchanged. Blogs tend to be more one way messages. You speak to an unknown (at first) audience.
This teaches you to write well. You get concise and learn to structure your thoughts in a way that is digestible for your audience.  (Erm, yes this is a long post.)
As a BA your job is all about good written and verbal communication. This is a massive opportunity for you. Don’t waste your time.
Go straight to google’s blogger, to ModernAnalysts Blog home page, or to any of the other free blogging tools out there and sign up today. 
Make your first post before you go to bed tonight. And then make a commitment to post at least once a week for 3 months.
If you are stuck for a first-post topic try the theme of “What did I learn this week?” Everyone wants to hear Lesson Learned.  Especially me.
While you are at it you can link back to my blog at BetterProjects (here) and I’ll tell my share of the BA world about your new blog.
3. Mentor or Coach
As I said above, teaching is a great way of learning. Coaching and mentoring also gets you to focus on the people side of the business, and to hone your ‘people change’ skills. 
Additionally, by sharing your knowledge around you help your personal ‘professional community’ get stronger. And you get the feel-good rush of helping someone. And the list goes on.
So, are you in?
I hope so.
Craig Brown
This entry was published on Jan 30, 2009 / Craig Brown. Posted in Project Management, Business Analysis, Soft Skills, Leadership & Management, Getting Started as a Business Systems Analyst. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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Alex P posted on Sunday, March 8, 2009 5:15 PM
Hi Craig

I've been running a blog since November of last year and it has changed my professional outlook dramatically.
I've also been a regular at the UK IIBA meetings since then - this is a virtuous circle as I can post reports on the IIBA meetings on my blog. I've been in regular discussion with board members, they like my blog and I plan to apply for an IIBA position soon.

I'm still not sure about the mentoring side. I am freelance and keep suggesting to my current employers that I'd be very happy to take a more junior BA under my wing bit commercial realities seem to prevent this. If I'm honest, I can't do it unpaid and have too many commitments outside of work to do it in my 'spare' time.

Anyway, I shall be linking to your blog as I like what you write. I'd certainly appreciate a link back and your opinion on my blog content.Be happy to exchange views any time too


Alex Papworth -
Alex P
Craig Brown posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 6:33 AM
Hi Alex

Thanks for the comment.
Craig Brown
np posted on Thursday, April 2, 2009 10:26 PM
hi craig,

I liked your article. I want to be a better BA! You are on Dot in your 2nd point about public speaking. But i am not quite sure about first.

I am ready to make the commitment still and will start with my first blog tonite!!!

Craig Brown posted on Friday, April 3, 2009 6:04 AM
Hi Nki
Don't forget to tell us where to find it :)
Craig Brown
vik posted on Thursday, March 18, 2010 10:25 AM
Liked the article, even though it was posted almost an year ago.
GOPI posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 1:16 AM
Hi Craig,

I really liked your article...
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