I am back from Wellington where we were training business analysts. We taught all kinds of techniques and approaches .. but it brought home an old lesson for me too.
The people in the class ranged from fairly experienced to virtually no experience at all. And they were from a wide range of business and governments cultures, yet they all had the right attitude to be BAs.
I was left thinking that if I had inherited this group as a BA team I would be pretty happy, while I have seen other whole teams of BAs with vast experience – but who I would really not want to inherit on a project.
So staring out the window of the plane on the way home I gave some thought to what background you need to become a BA … and the simple answer is that you should probably have been a child at some point.
The main ingredients are curiousity, being easy to work with, good at problem solving, good at explaining things when you understand them … and persistent enough to keep analysing something until it really does make sense.
Which suggests we should probably recruit business analysts at the age of 6 and send them to an “institute of analysis” like they do young gymnasts and athletes. But since we don’t have the international data analysis olympics to generate public support for the idea, I guess it would be hard to get that one set up.
So the next approach would be to bring them in as adults and teach them to think like a BA even after a bunch of other people have been teaching them not to think and not to communicate clearly. Maybe the best approach here would be to have a monastry and teach zen business analysis to people seeking inner peace and enlightenment (or a good job in IT).
Yet convincing companies to pay to send their BAs off for a couple of months of zen meditation and process mapping seems to be quite difficult.
So the only approach seems to be to teach the tools and hope to teach some attitudes and self-confidence, and then fling people into the chaotic world of projects to see how they cope and what they learn in the real world.
Let me know if you find a better way.