TechRepublic posted an article today titled, “How to find out what you don’t know.” I’m a huge fan of not only looking inward to find out, but also during requirements analysis trying to categorize information in 1 of 4 ways…
- I Know I Know
- I Don’t Know I Know
- I Know I Don’t Know
- I Don’t Know I Don’t Know
I find lots of parallels between #leadership and #businessanalysis and think BAs should purposely set aside time to study leadership principles in order to better lead from within a project team as well as leverage leadership techniques to influence organizational change.
It can be a challenge to identify what we don’t know though. It takes time, and often time is not a luxury we have. Our personality is typical confident and we’re able to present information and facts clearly in a way our stakeholders understand, but I feel it – so I am sure you feel it to…that looming fear of what you don’t know. What is the area of the scope that I didn’t even know I should explore?
Three of the main points Patrick Gray (@patgrayjr) makes in the article are perfect for Business Analysis interpretation.
Take the time to get complete stakeholder coverage. Don’t take the easy way out by working with the stakeholders at hand. Get direct input from end users if you can and try to work with individuals from different roles at different levels at the organization independently. I mentioned that as BAs we often have dominate personalities, but some of our stakeholder can take over the room and you run the risk of ending up with “groupthink“. Put yourself in the project’s shoes…if you were doing an 360° evaluation of yourself who would you talk to? This complete representation will help identify things you didn’t know and hadn’t even begun to think about.
Know the business, buy the tech knowledge
Ok, “buy” might not be the best word but…Trust your architecture and development counterparts to know the technology, your a business analysis professional. Know the business first, know the technology second. In fact, know the business first, and know your technology stakeholders even better. Those personal relationships, contacts, and connections will be invaluable. When you walk in cadence with your customer and have open and honest relationships with your IT counterparts then they will trust you to represent them fairly and the business accurately. Don’t feel like you have to be able to answer all the technical questions. Determine what is “just enough” technical knowledge and kill-it with your business acumen.
Get outside insight
At periodic intervals get someone from outside the core project team to review the work. Just like when we try to edit our own papers we read in to the text words that aren’t really present, or skim over words that are technically spelled correctly but are the wring one for the sentence. The second set of eyes will assist in identifying gaps, inconsistencies, and clarity issues. That feedback is invaluable!
To conclude I guess I will say its OK to know there are things you don’t know. Its a fact of life, it will always happen. We’re incapable of knowing everything. So hopefully a few of these ideas interpreted from Patrick Gray via TechRepublic will open your eyes and take away any fear you have of the ever looming “Don’t Know.”