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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

History Repeats Itself, But It Doesn't Have To

New article published on BA Times

Friday, July 22, 2011


I read a very disturbing article that I decided to share with my blog followers.  I am attaching a link on an article that I read in the Des Moines Register, but I want to focus on one paragraph directly.  I want to attach the link so you can read the article in it's entire context but I am very disturbed.

Here is the actual link:  New education report highlights weaknesses in Iowa schools

Here is the actual paragraph I am disturbed by:
"Schools are teaching an increasingly diverse student population that is at greater risk for failure. The number of low-income, African American, Hispanic and English-language learners has increased in recent years. Unlike other states, Iowa has failed to make progress in closing the achievement gap between those students and their peers, the report says."

I am disturbed because if you are of a diverse student population you are already labeled to have a greater risk of failure????  Where did these facts come from?  When I first read this sentence I went in with the thought that diversity is not just about race but it's about the things that make us different; however, the second sentence is the sentence that made me change my interpretation of diversity based on the author calling out specific races.  Just because you come from a low income family, African American, Hispanic or learning English as your second language doesn't automatically mean you are going to be a failure.  I can't even deduce logic in that.  I met some students who are going for scholarships and some are from low income homes and they have 3.8 or high grade point averages in high school.  I didn't grow up rich by any means but have done well for myself because of my motivation, discipline and ambition.  I studied hard and worked hard and no matter what when you put your mind to something you can achieve it.  What type of message is this sending to our children?  This is sending a message that if you fit any of these categories you are already stereotyped and put in a box.  African Americans and Hispanics are not the only ones from low income homes either.  People of all races and walks of life can be low income.

I speak at conferences and events on diversity and this article has really ticked me off because:
  1. Diversity is not just about race - diversity is inclusion and embracing differences because when you put different people together the ideas generated are powerful
  2. No matter where you come from if you set your mind to something you can achieve it.  No matter the adversity
  3. If you fit into any of the above categories you are already labeled before you can even start. That is not even fair.
I am very disturbed by this article.  This article also points out individuals with disabilities.  It's 2011 and we need to get past this way of thinking.  Instead of putting people in boxes and labeling them before they have a change, let's encourage each other to be the best person we can be, even if that doesn't fit into your definition.  People are different for a reason and some have challenges in areas that others don't.  Instead of stereotyping and literally saying they are a failure, take the time to take your knowledge and help them out.

One of the reasons I moved to Iowa is because of their education system.  My children have had challenges in this system but my husband and I are advocates for them.  Parent's DO NOT let people, like the person who wrote this article, label your kids.  Everyone learns different but we must be advocates and examples for our children.  They break through this barrier and encourage our kids to be their best, after all they are our future.

I know this post doesn't relate to business analysis directly but how many times have we been judged as BA's before we even walk into the room or conduct our first meeting?  How did that make you feel?  Now imagine how that would make a child a feel.

Paula Bell

Saturday, July 16, 2011


One of the hardest things on projects is not actually implementing the project but rather dealing with the project dynamics to get the project implemented.  If the project is complex the dynamics are even worse. Personalities, styles and approaches are some of the hardest things to manage on projects.  This is exceptionally true if you have multiple business analysts, project managers, test leads, etc... So how do you manage through the dynamics to get the job done?

  1. If a new person comes on the project team (i.e. business analyst, project manager, etc...) ensure there is a conversation with that individual to find out how this individual works as well as communicate to them how others on the team work.  This may also require the individual to talk directly to the project manager or business, really understand the style.  This will eliminate unnecessary angst later on.
  2. Understand that you may need to tweak your style to fit the project.  This does not mean that you change who you are, but you may have to tailor your approach due to the audience.  This is EXTREMELY important.  As you deal with different stakeholders, different approaches may be required.
  3. It's not about you but rather about successful completion of the project.  If you always remember the end goal it's easier to remember that flexibility will be needed.

People may chalk this up to politics but this is not a political situation this is a situation where the project team needs to figure out how to work with each other.

Project dynamics is something that occurs on every project therefore everyone has to figure out how to navigate through it opposed to fighting through it along the way.

Paula Bell

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Published Article in BA Times

BA times is a business analysis trade magazine that is read all over the nation. I'm very honored to have an article I wrote published.

Check it out:

Friday, July 1, 2011


So why does politics make "Paula Tick"?  Because it can make my job so much harder than it needs to be. The hidden agendas and personal motives are sometimes less to be desired. It would be nice if everyone could get along and truly work towards the same end goal, but that is more a fantasy than a reality in this industry of business analysis and project management. I have found that this sort of thing is heightened if you are involved on projects where what is being developed is replacing jobs, which leads to positions being eliminated. This is when individuals get real creative on how to play the hidden agendas card as they are in self preservation mode, that is providing they are even told which is political in itself in some cases. However, this self preservation mode is what brings pain to those working these projects because it's like walking on egg shells to get what you want because there are certain things you can't say or trouble will come upon your head and it's even worse in cases where people don't know because you can't let anything slip. So how do you navigate through all of this to get your job done? There is really no easy answer to this because you can't control people but you can control how you react to this and you can control yourself.

1. Don't heighten the political game by having your own personal agenda and joining in the politics.
2. Stay focused on your end goal which is project success and partnering with you business partners to obtain that.
3. Try not to get emotional (as you can tell I struggle with this sometimes so I'm preaching to myself right now)

I will admit that politics ticks me off. I'm not the one to really season my words and I'm pretty direct and honest. I'm not the one to hide things from the stakeholders and sponsors, which might be the reason I'm in business analysis and not project management where a lot of this conversations occur. I do believe that despite how good or bad you MUST be honest with your project sponsors to allow them to make good decisions. Don't get caught up in the hype of politics to the point you lose yourself, integrity, ethicsa nd credibility. Do what you know is right though others may not agree. They may get mad but eventually they will be glad you did it. Poltics to me equals personal agendas and hidden motives. No one wants to look bad or fail so the politics card comes in. Whether that means finger pointing to take the focus of you or manipulation to get what you want. Remember the boomerang effect, what you do to others will come back to you in some shape or form.

So let's stop the madness and work with each other to meet the end goal. Let's be strategic, critical thinkers, visionaries and problem solverss. It will make everyone happier and stop ticking people off, like me. 


Paula Bell