Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Accountability - 1 Word With So Much Impact

When you look up the word accountability in the dictionary you may find a definition that states: "the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable".  This word is a word that presents challenges on projects that I work on and even in my personal life. Holding yourself accountable is hard enough let alone having to hold others accountable. Though you may conduct stakeholder analysis and even outline roles and responsibilities on projects, the execution of accountability is tough. I have found that people shy away from accountability because if something goes wrong they don't want that held over their head or they consider it a blemish to their credibility. However, what's even worse is when you get the reputation of not being accountable which ties back to your character and integrity. If I can't rely on you to deliver what you say you are going to deliver, I get to the point where I can't trust you. To me that's a bigger blemish on you as an individual opposed to you not executing your accountability.  It's better to own the task, feeling, or question due to your accountability opposed to shying away from it.  If you are on a project team and are dealing with a person who never wants to be accountable try the following:

  1. HELP - Help the individual understand why they are the best person to be accountable for the task at hand. If the project team, sponsors or leaders didn't feel they were capable of completing the task they would not have been accountable for it. 
  2. THE WHY - Reiterate the importance of their accountability role and why it's important that he/she own and execute the items for which they are accountable. Explain the risks and/or consequences of what will occur if he/she doesn't follow through. 
  3. RESEARCH- Before giving someone accountability for a task understand past trends of the individual. If the individual has a history of not being accountable you may have to go with someone else.  If you don't an option to go with someone else set clear expectations and give feedback in the moment.
  4. SUPPORT - Provide as much support as you can for the individual to be successful. This may include additional information to help the individual to be accountable. 
  5. MODEL THE BEHAVIOR- Most important - if you are not being accountable for tasks assigned to you, then don't expect any different from those you work with or have relationships with. Practice what you preach and walk the talk.

Accountability is something that is a challenge on projects and in life in general. This word has a lot of tentacles to it as it does define a person's character and integrity. Let your character and integrity separate you from the rest. Hold yourself accountable in all do and execute accordingly.   Also, admit when you mess up because you are human and will make mistakes.


Paula Bell
BA Martial Artist

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Never Stop Learning - The BA Coach (a.k.a. Yamo) Podcast with Paula Bell

Good evening everyone!

I am very excited about this podcast.  I had the honor to be interviewed by The BA Coach (Yamo) at the end of last year and the podcast is now live.  Please check out the Podcast at the below:

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving comments and check out the wonderful things my fellow BA, Yamo is doing for the BA Community.

Paula Bell

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Tenant of Self Control

One of my passions along with leadership and business analysis is strengthening at all times are interpersonal skills, which a lot of individuals are not interested in sharpening because they believe they have mastered them or individuals tend to just put the on the back burner and focus only on the hard skills. This to me is so sad because without the interpersonal skills you will not be as successful as you can be.  I'm speaking of things such as communication, relationship building, etc...

From an earlier blog post last year, one of the items I discussed is the five tenants of Karate. Those tenants are:

1.    Courtesy
2.    Integrity
3.    Perseverance
4.    Self-Control
5.    Indomitable Spirit

One of the tenants that have really resonated with me lately is self-control.  As I work with people either in business analysis, leadership and career development or event planning I have realized the importance of exercising this tenant without being taken advantage of. Understanding that if someone is hostile to you doesn't mean your reaction should be the same. Understanding yourself to know how to exercise is extremely important but you also need the balance to not be run over. In my dealings with people every day I have come up with the following tips on how to practice self-control in high pressure situations without compromising who you are or being run over:

1.   If someone is confrontational toward you exercise self-control by staying calm.  If they raise their voice then lower yours. It's hard to argue with someone if they aren't arguing back.
2.   If you feel yourself losing self-control walk away from the situation and address it when you are calm. Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all.  No need to add fuel to an already burning fire
3.   Understand your limitations. In order to interact with others you must know who you are. What makes you tick? How do you like to be approached?  Once you define who you are, you know your boundaries. This helps yourself control because you know when you are reaching your point of no return.
4.   Don't take everything personal. Sometimes we can take comments or words personally when if you really think about it, it was never intentioned that way. Your reaction to when things are taken personally can be EXTREMELY negative.
5.  Take accountability for your actions. Before you react, hold yourself accountable to think through the consequences of those actions.

No one can control you but YOU. Know that everything you do is a reflection on your character which defines who you are. People are watching you when you may not be aware. Don't do things that will compromise that character. No matter where you are be aware of your surroundings and actions at all times. Those actions can make you and break you.

Paula Bell

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Approach

I have the privilege of mentoring and coaching many business analysts and I learn so much from each relationship I am a part of.  I had a very interesting mentoring session this week where my mentee and I talked about the steps she would take if all she received was the project scope, a list of 5 SMEs and was told to gather requirements to make changes to a web application.

I must first say she is relatively new to the business analysis discipline and currently reading through the BABOK.  As we ate lunch I thought it would be interesting to see what she would do in that situation, though she hasnt experience it yet. 

She advised she would do the following:

1.    She would do some sort of document analysis to determine what documentation is already present that she can learn from.
2.    She would then have a brainstorming session with the SMEs provided to understand their requirements and capture their requirements.

For someone relatively new to the discipline this was a good start. I told her that she was going in the right direction and we started to take more about some things she could ask and some more things she could do.  I had to emphasize that the approach she chose to take is key to project success and as she continues to do business analysis work she will get more and more skilled based off of past experiences on how she should approach certain projects. Let me state I'm not saying that the approach cannot or will not change, but there needs to be some serious thought on what should be done prior to jumping into business analysis activities. Through more conversation with this scenario we came up with the following as some additional things to consider, again this is not the end all list but it is amazing just through some conversation her two bullet points 7.

1.    Before diving into anything we decided we needed to find out more information such as:
a.    What is the timeframe for this project?
b.    Who are the stakeholders and what are their roles? (stakeholder analysis)
                                          i.    Who has worked with these stakeholders in the past? (What are their likes or dislikes? How do they like to be approached?)
c.    Clearly understand the scope
                                          i.    How does this project relate to the overall company strategy, goals, objectives, etc? (enterprise analysis)
                                        ii.    What is the desired goal of the project?
d.    Research what documentation already exists and learn as much as possible prior to any meetings.  Determine if information in previous documents can be leveraged in the project. (document analysis)
2.    Determine the methodology and documents to be completed and how those items are going to be monitored and tracked for success (business analysis planning and monitoring)
3.    Start Elicitation activities (determine meeting time, location, agenda, individuals to be included, obtain materials for the meeting such as flip charts, post it notes, etc...)

We stated to talk some of things that could occur in the meeting such as individuals that will not talk or the individuals that take the group off in tangents briefly. 

Based on this conversation she determined that there was a lot more to think about and consider before starting the actual work. This is an area that is a struggle for BA's new to the discipline and even those who have been doing business analysis for a while.  Getting started can be the challenge.

It's not about being quick to jump into the work but rather taking time to:

1.    Understand the problem to be solved, the timeline to solve it, the stakeholders and their roles, the overall goals and objectives of the enterprise. 
2.    Determine your approach to gathering the requirements such as methodology, documentation templates that add value, conduct documentation analysis to determine what already exists that you can leverage.
3.    Begin requirement activities (elicitation, prioritization, verification and validation, documentation creation, final approval)

There is clearly more to this than just what I mentioned above but at a high level this will get your going.

Paula Bell