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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bat

Last Wednesday we had quite a drama filled night.  We had a bat in our house.  It first started Wednesday morning when my daughter was getting ready for school.  She walked out of the bathroom to her room and ran back to my husband in the bathroom advising there was a big bug in her room and she was scared.  My husband went in her room and had the children go downstairs.  My son came down stairs as I was fixing my lunch and asked me, "What was that?"  My response was that I was getting milk out of the refrigerator.  My husband then came downstairs and advised that they saw a bat.  As I completed fixing my lunch I had to head out to work.  So my husband stayed with the kids and contacted Animal Control.  When Animal Control got to our house, of course the bat couldn't be found, so my husband and Animal Control figured the bat left the way the little critter came in.  So we continued on with life.  Later that night around 9:15 pm I was on my laptop in my bedroom and I saw this thing fly from the bathroom to my daughter's bedroom.  I got up and started to walk out my bedroom and I saw it fly again.  I started screaming frantically, jumping up and down.  I got the kids up out of bed, nearly dragging my son mind you, and ran down the stairs like a mad woman losing one of my slippers in the process and totally forgetting how I was dressed.  I ran out the door with my kids and we got in our car.  I then frantically called my husband who was wrapping up work and pretty much told him that I was not going back in that house until that thing was gone.  He hung up from me and called Animal Control.  As he called Animal Control my son proceeded to throw up in my car because when he gets scared, his stomach gets nervous.  So I had to hurry get him out of the car.  Mind you none of us are appropriately dressed at this time either.  I get my son under control and my husband calls me back.  As we are talking Animal Control is pulling up to the house.  Thank goodness it was a woman because again, I was nowhere appropriately dressed.  She laughed at me and asked me, "Why are you in the car?" I proceeded to tell her that I am petrified of bats and so are my kids and I had no intention of going back in that house until that little critter was caught. She went upstairs and two minutes later she came downstairs with the bat captured.  I breathed a sigh of relief as she left and my husband pulled up. Then my mind started playing tricks on me.  I started thinking, "What if there are more in the house?"  So the next day I called a Bat Exterminator and on Saturday he came and did a thorough examination of our house and advised we do not have a colony but there are some areas that should be sealed so they don't come back.  Of course, I got right on that and hopefully we will get someone out here this weekend to seal up those entry points.

As you can see this was quite a drama filled day.  I'm sure the bat didn't want to be confined to my house any more than I wanted him here but this little critter didn't know where to go as you could tell it was scared.  How many of us in the business analysis world are the bat and how many of us are frantic Paula.  

The Bat
  •  The bat knew he was not in the normal environment he would like to be.  How many times as business analysts do we feel we don't fit in the environment that is thrown at us?  Sometimes the projects we are handed down do not put is in the most comfortable positions, especially those that are politically charged.  Like the bat we want an escape and we want to move as fast as we can to get to that escape, hoping for someone to rescue us like Animal Control.  Sometimes, unfortunately we don't get rescued and we need to deal with it.  Then we are like the bat that can blend in so well in the environment that it makes it hard to find the little critter.  Sometimes we have to blend in, without sacrificing our integrity, to get the job done opposed to resisting.  Something’s you just can't change so instead of taking the approach of fighting it, find a way to get around that challenge to get the job done.
  • For the BA's that are trying to get into the field you may feel as though you don't fit.  You're flying around like the bat trying to find a department to land in so you can start your career but it appears that no one give you a chance because you don't have the experience.  So you need someone to rescue you as well.  Your rescue is the network you create for people to speak on your behalf as well as any mentors you can find to help open up opportunities for you so you can land.  It's so critical to network and find individuals who can help you understand the discipline.
 Frantic Paula
  • How many times as BA's do we feel things are out of our control that we want to pull our hair like I did when I went on a screaming and jumping rampage?  That was not the best reaction to the situation and I know I didn't help my children in staying calm at all as my son's stomach didn't hold.  As BA's we have to watch our reactions to situations as our reaction will funnel down to the rest of the team.  Sometimes we start fires we have no reason to start because of how we react to a challenge.  Before reacting, think.  Sometimes the situation is not as bad as you think.
  • Relax, relate and release
Though this bat situation was dramatic and I'm still not totally comfortable until I get everything sealed up in my house it taught me a few things about myself.  My reaction to the situation was not that great though it turned out fine.  Be encouraged my fellow BA's because just like the bat there is someone out there to rescue you and things are not always as bad as they seem.

Paula Bell

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


One thing I like to be is consistent as consistency is extremely critical as that helps to shape a person's credibility. With that being said, I have not been as consistent as I would like to be on my blog. So my goal is to update my blog every Wednesday with something that I have learned each week.

Thank you for following me as I want this blog to be a forum where we can all come together and share experiences and best practices not just around business analysis but around life in general.

Paula Bell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where Has the Respect Gone?

I remember when I joined the job force y mother and grandmother had to get use to me calling my boss by their first name.  They grew up either calling their boss "Mr." or "Mrs." then their last name.  This was a sign of respect.  Something that is lacking today.  Today, it's okay to curse on phone calls, be condescending or even cut people off that are talking on the phone.  As BA's we deal with this sort of thing daily.  Unfortunately sometimes these sort of behaviors are coming from the project champions, business leads or even executive sponsors which makes it very hard to know how to respond when these sort of things happen.  So as BA's can we handle these situations?

  1. Do not react to the person with the behavior the same way.  Instead do the exact opposite, if they are get loud on the phone then you get softer, if they are condescending then kill them with kindness.  If you react in the same way, especially if they more credibility than you do on the project, then you will look as being confrontational.  This will produce a negative perception on you which is not what we want.
  2. Do not confront the person with the behavior in front of a group.  Pull the person to the side or have a one to one conversation at a later time. Ensure to take emotions out of it when you need to have that crucial conversation.
  3. Leverage that network.  If you find you are in a situation when you need re-enforcement and you happen to know someone who is close to this individual then you may want to leverage that person to help mitigate this situation.  Ensure this individual you reach out to is someone you can trust because that is critical to this.
  4. Know what battles to fight and when to fight them.  Not everything needs to be fought.  Some things you let go past and then other you don't.  Understand your organization's culture to understand what battles to fight as the culture may drive some of the behaviors you are seeing.
  5. In all things remain true to you.  Don't lose yourself trying to deal with difficult people.  Maintain your integrity, work hard and continue to build your credibility.
The interpersonal skills are just as important as the hard skills.  You need both to be a successful BA.  I have seen a lot of BA's struggle because they have one but not the other, but essentially the majority of our job is building those relationships and maintaining them so we can help to build solutions for our business partners that are efficient and successful.

So I encourage you, as fellow BA's please don't lose who you are in the midst of what may be some of the most disrespectful situations.  I know this is EXTREMELY hard not to do but if you don't your job as a BA could be so much harder.  I am by no means saying be a doormat but I am saying be strategic in all you do and understand your organization's culture.  More to come on how to understand your organization's culture.

Paula Bell

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tae Kwon Do

One activity I currently do with my family is Tae Kwon Do, specifically focusing on life protection and not competitions.  I had to do Tae Kwon Do Testing this Tuesday to test for my orange belt which is the 3rd belt for my class.  During the test Renshi Dickey had us repeat the 5 tenents which are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit.  These are the tenents we should live our life with. It's not just saying the word but rather practicing these tenents throughout our life.  These tenets are vital to becoming a successful business analyst as well.  Let's take the definition (all taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary) of each tenent and relate it back to why it is important to business analysis:
  1. Courtesy
a.    Meaning: Behavior marked by polished manners or respect for other
b.    Application: As business analysts there is a level of respect we are given and a level of respect we must give to all project partners we work with.  It’s important that we respect our stakeholder’s opinions and ensure they feel that they are heard.  This kind act will make your job as a business analyst easier.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the work and forget some of the fundamental things that are needed to ensure people feel respected and valued.
2.  Integrity
a.    Meaning: Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values
b.    Application: Integrity is the moral fabric of who you are.  Without integrity what do you have.  Without integrity your credibility and character are questioned.  It’s EXTREMELY important as business analysts we are integrous.  No matter the situation, it’s important we don’t lose this because once this is lost it’s very hard to get it back.
3.    Perseverance
a.    Meaning: Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering
b.    Application:  I do believe every business analyst, whether you are new to business analysis or have in business analysis for a while, you know you have to persevere through all the challenges and difficulties that come toward you daily.  A lot of the business analyst I know are passionate about business analysis and that can help to drive your perseverance because when you do something you are passionate about it helps you to make it through the difficulties, failures and/or opposition.
4. Self Control
a.    Meaning: Restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires
b.    Application:  There are many a days have to restrain myself from saying what I really want to say on projects I am on because it could result in career suicide.  As business analyst we have to ensure we have self control.  We need to know which battles to fight and which ones not to fight.  This can be very difficult but we have to be very strategic in what we do as business analyst, considering there are many organizations out there that do not know how to effectively use business analysts.
5.    Indomitable Spirit
a.    Meaning: Incapable of being subdued : unconquerable, indomitable courage
b.    Application: In Tae Kwon Do this allows you to overcome your fears.  When you do testing it can be overwhelming and you may have fear because you don’t know what to expect but you know you have the courage to do because you are out there doing it.  The same thing with business analysis.  There have been times when I have went into meetings not knowing what to expect or not really feeling that I’m totally prepared due to the audience I will be in front of.  However, when I get into the element it always comes out better than I thought. That indomitable spirit (the courage) outweighs the fear.  As business analysts we need to have this trait.

So you make ask, how do you gain these things if you don’t already possess them? More blog posts to come on this. ;-)

Paula Bell