Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Business Analysis Front of House or Back Stage

When you go to a show you want to see the production. In fact the mystery of how things are done is part of the experience. Knowing the trade secrets often spoils the show. A stage show, or film for that matter, is about receiving the communication. 
Quite often these days a DVD or a streaming site has "how the film was made", or extra features. On Amazon Prime for example this "secrets first” is at the beginning of the list to see, if you don't watch it you can't use the next episode feature on returning because you haven't watched the spoiler - most frustrating.
The "how we did it" is about showing how clever we are in making the film and seeing it in advance to my mind spoils the communication experience. It takes away the magic and spoils the excitement.
I like to use this analogy when training analysts because what stakeholders want to hear or see is the messages and outputs not about how clever or more educated the analyst is.
Why is it then that a large proportion of time is spent selling method and notation to business stakeholders, when it is the outcome that is the interesting bit? The business stakeholder is pretty cynical about this methodology or that methodology, especially us older folks who have seen the latest panacea fall into obscurity time and time again. I’m not suggesting that the excitement and magic is the aim here or “smoke and mirrors” either. In a business sense that is going too far, but the avoiding obscurity of the clarity of the communication is not going too far.
There is a place for the back stage and a place for front of house. Keep the methodologies and lectures on notations behind the scenes.
Nobody likes a “clever clogs” who reminds a business person that they are intellectually deficient and that “we in I.T. or change know better”. As the years have gone by, many operations people have learned to ignore technical types as this cultural faux pas has embedded a sense of frustration and to be frank total dis-engagement. IDEF0 , UML, Prince2, TOGAF and many others do I need to say more?
So many times we lead with method based training and force everyone to conform and adhere to the latest mantra. “They have had the training so now they will perform; job done!” Invariably they don’t perform because it is a case of “here we go again”; last decades business process engineering becomes six sigma, then lean and now agile this and that. So, many times we lead with method based training and force everyone to conform and adhere
Outputs and outcomes are what the show is about, not trying to overtly, or even unintentionally, showing how knowledgeable or superior you are.
So, focus on the outcomes present the method driven results; if the outcomes hit the spot than the methodology can follow if really necessary.  Forget the business training on the latest approach; lead by example and produce successful outcomes then business people will ask you: “how is that done then”, that is the opportunity to provide the education. The sale has already been made.