I’m writing this from a slightly different perspective. Today, thanks to a knee injury last week, I’m no longer my usual self, bounding up and down the stairs. It’s painful to walk around and I have to think consciously before moving in case I hurt myself.

Yesterday, I spoke at IBC, the International Broadcasting Convention, in Amsterdam. Usually I speak at conferences where I know the subject and the audience well. This time, I was the outsider, who didn’t know the jargon and was stunned by all the new technology around me. I spent some time in a futuristic living room designed by Cisco. The walls were covered in screens showing video, information and friends in their own homes watching the same content. When the screens were switched off, they matched the wall paper on the wall around them. It was mind-boggling:
Cisco stand at IBC 2013 with the wall of video

I experienced another perspective on the way home. My sore knee meant that I needed special assistance from check-in to my plane. I had to wait near check in until close to boarding time, when a lady collected me and whisked me in a buggy to my gate and then, via a wheelchair, to my plane. I’ve never gone through security and passport control so fast!

The world looks quite different from a wheelchair and I’m profoundly grateful for those at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam and Birmingham Airport who looked after me so well, making a conscious effort to look down and talk to me at my new level. It would have been so easy to have looked over me, especially when passport booths are designed for people to stand at.

So, how does all of this relate to Business Analysis and Leadership and the book? I think it does in two ways.
(1) Business analysts need to remember that there are a whole range of different perspectives that we need to be aware of and understand well.
(2) Our book is designed to reflect this reality by bringing in 28 diverse contributors, each with a slightly different view. I think that the different voices and perspectives add a lot to the book. Let me know your view of how this works.

Next week, I’ll be back in my own area at Business Analysis Europe Conference 2013 in London. If you’re coming, do say ‘Hello’ and I’ll be delighted to introduce you to many of the authors who will be there. There is a panel on Leadership and a session on Tuesday afternoon related to this book. See you there!

Why we need to read!

The head of what is probably the largest Business Analysis community in the world (over 1,00 business analysts) told me how shocked she was by the lack of reading her business analysts do around their work. Only 3 out of 30 said they ever read anything about business analysis, in contrast to what she sees when walking past developers desks where  piles of well-thumbed copies of various software books are always in evidence

There is an interesting paradox that technological advances actually make the job of business analysis harder. For example the flexibility and configurability of business software packages turns the old complaint of business of not wanting to ‘have to change our business in order to fit the IT system’ on its head. It is now much easier to give the business exactly what they ask for. This can be a recipe for disaster! It’s easier than ever before to create bureaucratic workflow monsters.

The ability of business analysts to understand the real problem and to influence people to see the wider picture before agreeing on a solution is key. This means technical and business knowledge is not enough and that people and leadership skills are becoming more and more important. Many of these skills are straightforward to understand but take a lifetime to master.

Andy Wilkins’ chapter ‘Dealing with problems’ in the book has given me a much-appreciated understanding of different types of problems.  I’m currently working with a series of ‘wicked messes’ and trying to bring about change in social care. I followed up Andy’s chapter by reading one of his references (another great thing about the book is there are exactly 200 references to other books and articles) A thought-provoking, and very useful read, David Hancock’s book Tame, Messy and Wicked Risk Leadership develops the theory of messy and wicked problems through his experiences of managing risk for Heathrow Terminal 5 and London Underground.

To me the point of reading is to understand the worlds we work in better so that we can bring about more effective change. A deeper understanding of messy and wicked problems has helped me to recognize and understand why so many projects in social care are so hard to manage and deliver and has provided new and exciting approaches to take. Theory is interesting but it only becomes useful when you start trying to use it to apply to your own situations.

The manager’s solution has been to run monthly short seminars based around James and Suzanne Robertson’s book Mastering the Requirements Process . The requirement for attendees is that they read the relevant chapter before the seminar. How do you encourage people to read?

An author reflects on his identity…

Michael Brown with his copyIt seems that becoming a published author brings out all sorts of reactions from people. Michael Brown, author of ‘Dealing with Difficult Stakeholders’ and a web chapter, wrote a lovely piece in his blog explaining his reaction. You can find it here

It was a pleasure to attend the IIBA UK Chapter event on 4th September focused on Business Analysis and Leadership. Hosted by Credit Suisse, it gave the chance for around 200 business analysts to hear a couple of presentations and participate in a panel discussion about leadership as a BA.

Here is my summary of the two presentations, given by Sarah Coleman on ‘Power and Politics’ and Andy Wilkins on ‘Context,culture and climate’:
Penny Pullan's summary

Here is a picture of the Panel discussion. From the left, we have Roger Mawle, Jake Markham, James Archer (Chair), Nick de Voil and Simon Edwards:
IIBA event on Business Analysis and Leadership

As all the speakers were authors from our book, the IIBA and Credit Suisse kindly allowed Kogan Page to come and run a book stall. We authors were busy signing books all evening and I think the record was ten author signatures in one book!

Before the rush:
The book laid out on a table at Credit Suisse

The book has arrived in Australia!

Andrew Kendall

Our book has reached Australia! Here’s a picture of Andrew Kendall, author of the Endpiece: ‘Integrating Business Analysis, creativity and play’, with the book. Note the Australian flag!

Publication Day!

Our book is published today! It’s been a major focus for nearly two years, so today is a momentous day for me and my fellow editor James Archer. I’m delighted that this book has highlighted the really collaborative nature of our work, with so many co-authors involved.

I’m really pleased that for some of our co-authors, this book means that they have become published authors. Michael Brown reflected on this in this blog post yesterday, entitled: ‘Today I shall be a writer’.

It’s also time for a new e-mail footer for me:
Business Analysis and Leadership E-mail Footer

Next week sees an IIBA speaking event in London focused on the topic: ‘Business Analysis and Leadership’. Many of the book’s authors will be there and several of them are speaking. Here’s the line up:

Panel: Business Analysis and Leadership
Jake Markham – Director at Credit Suisse and EMEA lead for Client Technology Solutions
Roger Mawle – Technology Controller ITV (Formerly Head of Business Analysis)
Simon Edwards – Business Manager, Product Control at HSBC
Nick de Voil – Director UK Chapter IIBA

Summary: James Archer co-editor of the new book on Business Analysis and Leadership will chair the panel to discuss why understanding how leadership is of central and growing importance to business analysis. All the panelists have contributed chapters to the book.

Presentation 1: Dealing with Power and Politics – Sarah Coleman international business consultant and coach at Business Evolution

Presentation 2: Context, Climate and Culture – Andy Wilkins honorary senior visiting fellow at Cass Business School and co-founder of Perspectiv

This event is sponsored by Credit Suisse and will be completely free for all attendees.
Wednesday 4th September 18:00 at Credit Suisse, Canary Wharf in London, UK.
Arrive at 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start. There will be refreshments at the end of the event at around 8.15 pm.

For more information and to book, click here.

The Leadership Framework

Leadership in the 21st century is no longer about leading unthinking troops into battle. It’s a lot more complex than that! Business Analysis is one of those areas that has leadership at its core, and in four different areas. You can find much more in the book, but for a quick introduction, have a look at the Framework we use:
Business Analysis Leadership Framework
As you can see, it shows four layers of leadership:

  • self,
  • project,
  • organization,
  • wider world.
  • Each of these levels is important and each is covered in detail in the book, with several chapters discussing different aspects of each level. For example, in the section on ‘Leadership of Self’, we cover skills, courage, being a facilitative leader and communication for success.

    My advance copy has arrived!

    On Saturday morning, the doorbell rang at 7am. That’s early for a weekend! Full of sleep, I managed to get downstairs and open the door before the courier left. Inside the parcel was my advance copy of ‘Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing change’. How exciting! I’d heard from some of the contributors that the book was ‘awesome’ and was really keen to see it in physical form for myself. After 18 months or so of grappling with it in electronic form, it was a pleasure to see the bright cover and to feel the book in my hands. James and I managed to exceed the original word-count considerably, and Kogan Page have done a superb job in fitting it all in and making sure that it feels and looks wonderful. The book is easy to read and sits nicely in my hand. Thank you to Julia and all the other people who worked behind the scenes at Kogan Page to make our book become a physical reality!

    First post

    This website is under construction. We’d appreciate any comments that you have on what you like, you’d like to see here and any ways we could make this site even better. Thank you in anticipation! Penny