Games and Play for the Effective BA
Georgiana Mannion @processincolour kicked us off by encouraging us all to own our “weirdly awesome” BA selves. Georgina took us through a variety of playful techniques, each one linking back to a tangible outcome, such as a mind map to discover ownership allocation, prioritising each requirement for the needs of a persona against a beachy background for a benefit heat map, through to walking our personas through lego and playdoh prototypes!
The session was heaps of fun and the underlying messages really hit home for me. Most memorably it was that requirement elicitation doesn’t need to be beautiful, just functional; other companies use playful techniques as a tool – give permission to stakeholders to play and participate; increase communication by using visual aids, and use play to neutralise the hierarchy often found in project teams.
Disrupting Business Analysis with Design Thinking
But why title this article “Peeling an Orange”? It was thanks to Glen McCloy @GlenMcCloy and our own Blair Loveday @Luvleyday who requested us all to take a moment to write down the steps we would take to peel an orange, and then share our steps with our team members.
Not surprisingly, each one of us had a completed different way of peeling that orange. Some people started at selecting the orange, does it smell nice, does it look good enough to eat? others went straight into it – grabbing a knife and going for segments and others debated about biting off a chunk to kick off the peeling process.
Then Blair and Glen rocked out a ‘real life’ orange and one person in our team verbalised their internal monologue – what are they considering as they dissect that orange? It took us on their journey, enabling us to empathise and gain insights into what our customer is considering as they make their decisions to perform a fairly simple activity, one that is open to multiple assumptions and biases.
What the experiment highlighted was the need to design with the customer versus designing for the customer. Each one of us has a unique perspective. We know A process, but not necessarily THE process. The voice of intent is with the customer.
Check out Redvespa’s recently launched Disrupting Business with Design Thinking guide, lead by Blair!
Lean Decision Making
Now that we have a designer’s view of the customer, their experience and motivations, what do we do with all of this data? Welcome to the topic of the third workshop with Kupe Kupersmith @Kupe.
Kupe passionately highlighted that analysis is a team sport that doesn’t happen just for the sake of it, analysis is getting to outcomes by helping others to make decisions. How do we, as Business Analysts, add value by facilitating those decisions? Kupe’s insight was that each decision starts with a relationship. By increasing our engagement with people, we increase the ability to get decisions made.
There is an art to establishing relationships, but science is involved in identifying who to establish a relationship with. Kupe provided a simple set of decision criteria steps to assist with stakeholder engagement:
- What decisions need to be made?
- What decisions are the most important to the parties involved in the project?
- Who are the people involved and what is their engagement type?
- Decision makers, supporters, awareness.
- What information is needed to make a decision?
- What criteria are we using to make a decision?
- When do you need to make a decision?
- Timing of decisions needs to be completed at the least possible responsible moment.
- Make a decision and track it!
- People lose 50 to 80% of what they’ve learned in 1 day, 97% in 3 days.
Making a decision can be a complete buy-in from a stakeholder, “Yes, I can live with that and move forward” through to no buy-in at all, which in itself is still to be tracked, “Is everyone ok to do nothing, is everyone ok with that?”.
By combining analysis strengths, relationships and the decision criteria steps, we can achieve ‘just enough’ analysis, or, in other words, just enough information to make a decision.
A Journey to Knowledge
Rounding the workshop extravaganza off, Moana O’Neil @munienz encouraged us all to practice “Guerrilla Knowledge Management”, sharing knowledge with our colleagues and peers whenever we have a chance.
Moana took the attendees through Redvespa’s own experiences in increasing the intellectual protocol of our team. As a decentralised organisation with consultants out on different client sites in different geographic areas, we have a challenge to keep the team connected, learning and growing.
Redvespa has found that the adoption of squads and tribes has helped our consultants to engage through multiple channels, increasing the frequency and quality of interactions between each other and the company. Tribes are geographically based and squads are a network of colleagues that gives me the opportunity to learn from individuals and get advice.
To demonstrate the journey, we took one ourselves! Everyone created their own profile and sticking to a couple of rules (no less than 3 people in a squad and no more than 7), we self-selected into our own squads, with great conversation about the motivation behind each person’s decision – do you align with common interests, or do you consciously select a group to challenge yourself – all in the pursuit of greater knowledge!
We started this two-day workshop extravaganza playing with analysis and design techniques to discover the customer’s voice of intent and remove any barriers between project team roles. The second day reminded me of the different types of perspectives, motivations and information needed within my project team to make great decisions. I left the workshop with a new squad and an even greater appreciation of peeling an orange!