Adaptability and Creativity in Business Analyst's Job

Apr 14, 2024

I came across a fascinating topic from the neuroscience of late, default mode network (DMN). It is about restful mode of mind. In a nutshell, it is what our brain is doing when it is not involved in a particular (focused) task. It is also about tendency of human beings to operate in the same automatic/stuck patterns. Such patterns in turn lead to repeated set of thoughts, behaviors and actions.

Think about the extent of your attention to driving when you are on a completely new or unknown road. Now compare the same with your level of attention when you are on a set everyday road. In the first scenario, you are far more focused (it's called the focused mode of the brain). Whereas the second scenario is the default mode. The question comes, which mode is better and why? I am not a neuroscience expert. However, the answers from most of my research point to “focused” mode. Default mode itself isn't a bad mode though. It is useful in conservation of cognitive resources and in divergent thinking as well. It's being stuck in default mode network has its own dangers.

Adaptability and Creativity in Business Analyst's Job

How does this all relate to business analysis work? In today's agile and automation driven times, knowing relevant aspects of brain's mode of working will help. It will help with finding more optimal (and conscious) ways to improve creativity and adaptability in our work. In turn this will help in becoming more successful as a Business Analyst.

Let's explore a few scenarios from a business analyst's job. Let's validate if the steps are re-used because they work the best (default mode). Or it is because they are actually suited for the situation.

Scenario 1

Imagine a scenario wherein you are creating a scoping diagram/process maps. As you start creating/refining the process maps, you need to start collaborating with various teams to come up with an agreeable model. Often the processes go through several iterations and adaptations until the team reaches a stable model.

In default mode, there is a risk of using the same scoping technique (say always use case model or always use BPMN) because it worked well in the past. By stepping back from the default mode, the same situation is an opportunity to re-assess if the given scope model indeed works best for the project and tailor the choice for the project.

Scenario 2

Imagine a scenario wherein you are defining user interactions for a product. The larger picture of the product features is clear. As you start developing intricacies of the user actions and system responses, you start considering aspects such as

What kind of graph suits this user role the best? How would the visual look like?

In what situations a specific workflow task is escalated to manager role?

What is the actionable response presented to the manager role?

While in default mode, there is a risk of falling back to similar designs used from the past. This same situation is an opportunity to ask questions such as what, when, how, why, where. Thereby you will also come up with the most suitable interactions and design.

Scenario 3

Take a scenario wherein you are starting off with planning on what business analysis deliverables to produce for the project. You have been suggested of creating use-cases, user stories, as well as functional requirements specifications.

While in default mode, there is a risk of going ahead and creating redundant and repetitive docs. Same situation is an opportunity to re-assess if one can tailor the choice of delivery artifacts more aptly for the project. This way one can even avoid many traceability issues beforehand.

Scenario 4

You already are aware of recurring quality issues in the project. The intent is to tap those issues ahead of time using a quality checklist. While stuck in default mode, there is a chance of always using the same checklist you used before because we know it worked well in the past. This same situation is an opportunity to re-assess how the given checklist can be tailored for your specific project.

Concluding Note

Through this post, I wanted to discuss how we could program or re-frame our thinking to work with greater flexibility, in relation to BA work. Whether we follow default mode vs focused mode or we use techniques from NLP (neuro linguistic programming) or any other tool, it is the outcome that matters the most.

There is ever-growing need for adaptability, and innovation in BA space. With the advent of areas such as AI, machine learning, digital process automation (DPA) and design thinking, it is even more imperative that business analysts look beyond the set patterns.

Questions such as "what tasks of a process require human expertise? What tasks are best done by robots?" will become more and more relevant. Thoughts?


Author: Swati Pitre, CBAP®

Swati Pitre, CBAP®, is Sr. Business Analyst, Consultant and Trainer with 20+ years of industry experience across various domains and geographies. Her specialties include Process Improvement, BPM, Predictive Analytics, Product Development, Quality, and Governance. She undertakes various training courses such as CBAP®/CCBA®/ECBA® Prep Courses, Comprehensive BA Job oriented Course, Agile BA Course, and several other customized courses. She is also a public speaker and has completed Level 4 of Effective Coaching Pathway at Toastmasters International.



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