The Invisible Advantage of Strategic Mindset and how to develop it

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Aug 16, 2020
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Business Analysis journey is typically triggered by a desirable change. A change that although may appear local in impact, restricted inside a defined project scope, it can have an effect of many hidden aspects of an organization’s ecosystem. Strategic outlook and mindset is a common trait of successful business analysts. Having in your mind the desirable future and seeking for opportunities in order to contribute with your tasks at the overall efficiency, success and sustainability of the organization you work for, can make the difference.

Μindset is the heart of revolution in management. How you think and act matters more than ever before in our complex world full of challenges. The difference between the good and the great is the difference between your mindset and your skill set. We live in a world where skills are increasingly developed and outsourced. Mindset separates the best from the rest as right habits can help to demonstrate excellence in every way by using accordingly your skills. Dealing and having in mind the future and the bigger picture while you are doing something can for sure lead to exceptional performance as you have clear in your mind the why and the desired outcome which will be a step towards organization’s and personal development stair.

Strategy Analysis is a separate area in many BA frames like BABOK® guide and Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®. Beginning from the need and analyzing the current state the future state is described in practical terms resulting in identification of a set of capabilities required for the organization to be able to transform and to attain a desired future state that addresses the problem or opportunity under analysis.

However strategic orientation of a business analyst professional goes far beyond the above structured process. Strategic outlook can be effective in all knowledge areas and in every action during the business analysis journey. It is a way of thinking before any action. It’s the business justification you seeking and the effort to integrate a tactical action into the whole picture of the organization. It’s a filter to judge before any action and to ensure the alignment of your actions to overall purpose of the project and the organization.

Continuously seeking business justification that will ensure your actions concerning BA activities serve the great purpose of the project and the organization is essential.

Following some aspects of the strategic mindset mixture:

  • Seek Improvement Opportunities means you are willing to search and exploit approaches that can add value to the organization and improve the aspects of future state in a way of supporting strategic high level goals. This opportunities can be in the scope or out of scope of the current project. “Going the extra mile” in the concept of Organizational Citizenship Behavior1 can be applied here. An exceptional Business Analyst will create the future instead of only working to today reality. Will try with supposing his ideas to transform and disturb the status quo (with a case).
  • Assessing the current state involves researching and analyzing various aspects of the existing organizational environment to understand a situation of concern or interest to the business. Also in the above frame it means exploiting these assets and capabilities in any ba activity in order to achieve the most of the results.
  • As future state discussions begin, various capabilities might be proposed for addressing the problem or opportunity under analysis. It is crucial the future state to be clearly described and the desired outcomes and characteristics understood and agreed.
  • Systems theory and systems thinking suggest that a system as a whole has properties, behaviours, and characteristics that emerge from the interaction of the components of that system. These factors are not predictable from an understanding of the components alone. Analyzing your actions in terms of consequences because of interdependencies is vital for a successful ba activity outcome.

How a Business Analyst can develop his personal strategic mindset. Following some tips:

  1. Do not be afraid to dream and visualize a better future inside your organisation. You can express your development ideas to your manager. Make sure that your ideas can be easily understood and are promising.
  2. Try to see the bigger picture beyond the territories of a certain project. How this can contribute to the overall success of the organisation. Ask, ask, ask yourself in order to find the why you are doing something and justify it.
  3. Have high standards. High standards is about personal and collective growth and success. Having high standards means you seek and propose ways that your organization or your team can increase efficiency and success.
  4. Pay attention to stereotypes. Strategic mindset many times requests innovation and thinking outside the well-known patterns.
  5. Ask tough questions. Questions may bring uncertainty and ambiguity but it’s the only way to achieve improvement solutions that will contribute to the sustainability of a project, organization. Questions help to mitigate the risks of myopia and to see organization as a system and not to focus entirely o one small part like your department or project.
  6. Seek for trends outside your internal environment. Some industry standards and best practices may contribute with the right level of customization to the success of an initiative.
  7. Structure your ideas and thoughts. Make effective brief and effective presentations. Frame your strategic suggestions in a way that are clear and justified.

Strategic focus and mindset is an essential trait in business analysis area. One way it can be developed and enchases is via building an organizational culture that promotes acting and behaving strategically. Companies have to increase opportunities for strategic dialogue and to listen to ideas and suggestions not only from the senior but also from all executives.