In this episode, Faye Thompson helps us to solve problems by thinking like freaks and takes us from scribe to trusted adviser.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • Why good business analysts think like freaks
  • How to dig deeper when someone provides an answer
  • What to do when you’re handed a solution to implement
  • How to go from scribe to trusted adviser

Show Notes

Great business analysts think differently.

They don’t take the first answer at face value.  They dig deeper to find the root cause, break down a problem into small pieces, and find multiple potential solution options.  They then guide the team to finding the best solution among the possible options.


Thinking Framework

I encourage you to think like a child; examine every problem in the simplest form.  Don’t overlook possibilities because they seem obvious or too simple.

Be relentlessly curious and wildly unbiased.

Step back and allow yourself to brainstorm and consider all possibilities without constraints.  Later, you can narrow down the solutions for feasibility and appropriateness.

It’s common for us to ask a question and stop right there.  We don’t dig deeper to get to the root cause.  Using 5 whys or Ishikawa (fishbone) diagrams can help you find the root cause and come up with an action plan

Often, there may be multiple root causes.  A great BA will help develop options and help the team select actions that will have the greatest positive impact.


What’s freaky about it?

The freaky part of thinking is being dissatisfied with the first answer you get.  We should be asking a lot of questions and digging deeper.  Don’t stop at the first answer we come to.  This allows you to find connections and causes others may have missed.

Great BAs aren’t scribes or note takers.  Scribes don’t think like freaks.

Businesses are looking for change agents who can recognize opportunities for positive change, present solution opportunities, and guide the organization to selecting the right actions and help implement those solutions.

Great BAs solve the right problem with the right solution among multiple possible options.  We’re able to see work that may need to be done before other work and see things that shouldn’t be done at all.


The Problem with Solutions

Often we may be handed a solution to implement.  When handed a solution, we need to dig deeper and ask questions about the problem the organization is trying to solve.

We need to ask the tough questions to determine whether or not the solution is solving the right problem the right way.  Digging deeper also allows us to use systems thinking to understand the impacts the solution may have on the rest of the system.

When examining a solution, ignore boundaries and false constraints.  These limit possibilities.

Take a step back and make sure team is not adhering to false constraints, is focusing on the right problem, and everyone understands the business value of the solution


The Challenge of Being a Freak

It can be difficult to stand up and show the organization that they’re not doing the right thing or that the solution doesn’t solve the right problem.  It’s challenging to slow things down to make sure your team is doing the right thing to achieve the business value.

As Great (freaky) Business Analysts, we need to step up, think differently, and dig deeper to be the guardians of business value.


Listen to the full episode to hear all of Faye’s advice on thinking differently and becoming a trusted adviser.


Your Homework

Learn to say “I don’t know enough yet”.  While we want to move projects forward quickly, get comfortable with the need to go back and investigate more to ensure you have a solid understanding of the problem you’re solving and the intended value.

Adopt a servant leadership mindset and put the team’s and organization’s needs first.


Links mentioned in this episode:


Faye Thompson

Faye Thompson

Sr. Agile Consultant, CareWorks Tech

Faye is a senior agile consultant with more than eighteen years of project delivery experience.  Focusing on agile methodologies and continuous improvement, she has had a positive impact in the financial services, healthcare, advertising, and automotive industries. She enjoys serving on the board of directors for the Central Ohio Agile Association and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

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