Leadership & Management

Mar 31, 2024
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In complex environments, cognitive load (relating to tax complexity and multiple inputs that affect decision-making) can significantly hamper the quality and efficiency of project choices. High-performance business analysts can play an integral and important role to avoid this issue by advocating for the adoption of a decision-making compass to deliver insight to stakeholders about how well their objectives may be satisfied by potential alternative courses of action. The next time you’re embarking on a high-stakes project, make sure you have a decision-making compass ready to use, even if only informally defined. While there is no guarantee that applying it to project choices will completely eliminate the risk of mistakes, it will no doubt help move things in the right direction and maximize performance.

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Okay, you believe you had a great day at work today; that you accomplished a lot. Maybe you did. Then again, maybe you didn't do as much as you might think. A lot of people believe just because they are a model of efficiency, they are being highly productive. This is simply not true. We have discussed the concept of productivity on more than one occasion in this column, but some trends in the business world have caused me to revisit it again.

Nov 19, 2023
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The Unique Competing Space (UCS) is a macro-level strategy visualisation framework. It enables teams to understand the broader scope of customer needs, evaluate how well their offerings are meeting customer needs, and evaluate how well their competition is also meeting these needs.  The UCS can easily be one of the tools in a firm or team’s arsenal for probing and situating “…the firm’s strategic position in its greater competitive context”.

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My single most important recommendation to anyone considering the use of outside consultants is simple: Get everything in writing! Clearly define the work assignment, get a signed agreement spelling out the terms of the assignment, and demand regular status reports.

I am always amazed how companies give consulting firms carte blanche to perform project work as they see fit. Abdicating total control to a consultant is not only irresponsible, it is highly suspicious and may represent collusion and kickbacks.

There is nothing magical in managing consultants. It requires nothing more than simple planning, organization, and control. If you are not willing to do this, then do not be surprised with the results produced. Failure to manage a consultant properly or to adequately inspect work in progress will produce inadequate results. So, do yourself (and your company) a favor, do your homework and create a win-win scenario for both the consultant and yourself.

Sep 10, 2023
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As a business analyst, navigating groupthink is essential for delivering valuable insights and driving successful projects. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, promoting diverse perspectives, and encouraging critical thinking, business analysts can overcome the challenges of groupthink. Remember, effective negotiation of groupthink empowers teams to make informed decisions, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and ultimately contributes to improved project outcomes. Embrace these strategies, and you'll be well-equipped to lead your team towards successful and innovative solutions.

Feb 26, 2023
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The following four attributes are really important for a leader (and for a parent)... You will see that parents who do all the above turn out to have decent children (more often than not) and leaders who do all the above turn out to be highly respected and admired leaders. You can pick your favorite leader you had in your life and you will notice they displayed these qualities.

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Sometimes the best solutions are right in front of us, hidden in plain sight. Get in the habit of working from first principles and you’ll find it easier to cut through preconceptions to change the business question and quickly see alternatives that you may have missed.

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When I started my business analysis career back in the late 1990’s, career development was considered “the individual’s responsibility”. Over my career I’ve managed several teams of Business Analysis resources, and I think that mentality has changed over time. There are benefits for the manager and the organization to help their team members develop in their career. By helping your team members grow you can get...

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Knowledge isn’t like other commodities. If I have three dollars and give you one of them, now I have only two dollars. Money is zero-sum in the sense that I must lose some of it for you to gain something in this transaction. In contrast, if I give you some of my knowledge, I still possess all the knowledge myself. I can share it with other people, as can you. Everyone touched by this expanding circle of knowledge benefits.  Everyone has something to teach—and to learn. You don’t need to be the world’s expert on some topic to be helpful. You just need some useful block of knowledge and the willingness to share it. In the world of technology, if you’re one week ahead of the next person in some area, you’re a wizard. Someone else will doubtless be ahead of you in other areas, so take advantage of their trailblazing. People in a healthy learning culture share what they know and also acknowledge that someone else might know a better way.

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A crisis always highlights the need for specific managerial and leadership Behaviors (Behavioral School of Leadership). These behaviors of course are triggered by specific personal characteristics of the leader (Leadership Trait Paradigm), by the specific conditions (Leadership Contingency Theory) and by the willingness and devote of individual in continues practicing these behaviors any possible occasion. Although it is my intention to approach the leadership from a behavioral point of view, a synthesizing and integrating logic is more than necessary to have a holistic view that can lead to insightful conclusions.

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Learning how to become an effective people manager can be difficult. Becoming a manager of business analysis resources has some unique challenges, but I hope to make it easier for you by sharing some advice based on my experience managing three different business analysis teams in three different organizations.  There are two ways people become business analysis managers; from having a lot of business analysis experience or being a people manager and transitioning to leading a business analysis team.  

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In my experience while working for different companies, I have seen that some organisations are learning to be agile while some pretend to be agile and others are not agile at all. While we are not here to talk about the last category (assuming they have a very good reason for not wanting to go agile), I would like to put down some challenges for organisations who are on their journey to becoming agile and for those who think they are agile but are possibly not. In this article, I am going to talk about my understanding of the plausible reasons why some organisations struggle to make it.

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In a previous organization I worked for, I formed a Business Analysis team by bringing 7 business analysis professionals together for the first time.  There were no templates, no standards, everyone was doing work their own way.  I don’t believe in standards for the sake of everyone doing work the same way, but I do believe in embracing what works best in an organization and striving to use that to achieve repeatable success.  I introduced the concept of a Business Analysis Center of Excellence (CoE) to the organization. 

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Several years ago, I had the opportunity to manage a group of project managers and business analysts. This article reminisces about what shaped my thoughts on managing such a group and hopefully gives you some considerations given the opportunity.

Past Experience

Perhaps negative experiences impress us more than positive ones. What does not kill you, makes you stronger. In the area of managing a group of project managers and business analysts, two negative experiences stand out for me. I was a project manager engaged in a conversation with my boss on my development. I had worked for this person several years. I asked him if he had heard about a group called the “Project Management Institute.” He said “yes” and maybe he should expose the organization to the group. Maybe? I asked the question since I had been working as a project manager without guidance and frankly was a bit upset over the lack of leadership and development. I told myself, “isn’t that the role of management - to develop people.

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The concept of resilience is closely connected with the concept of self-leadership as exercising and improving yourself towards being able to lead yourself can help you being able to return.  In the face of a crisis some people ride out uncertainty instead of being overpowered by it. Are there special personal characteristics of these persons? Are they gifted from their birth having supreme quality of genes? Maybe but what they do is exercising certain behaviors. Behaviors that not only triggered by their personal characteristics and their personality but from their willingness and commitment in those behaviors

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