BAs make the world a better place – Ryan Knapton 0

Posted on 24, February 2012

in Category practitioner experience

As human beings, each of our time on this planet is finite. We know that time is precious, and we want to spend it doing things that make us happy. For many of us, one aspect of happiness is the ability to make a positive difference, to help put other people into a better position than what they were before we came around – in short, to create happiness. A lot of individuals make it their life mission to do such tasks, and they truly do impact people in so many wonderfully different ways.

How do BAs make meaningful differences?

But as a business analyst, how do we make a difference? When we get up in the morning, how much of the reason why is because we want to get out there and make a positive impact? It’s a bit more difficult to see straight away as compared to say, a nurse or a doctor, but if we peel away some of the layers and really think about it, we do put people in better positions than what they were before we came around. It’s more subtle than saving a life (and I’m not going to argue that it’s more valuable!), but it is important and it does make a difference.

If we do our work right, people will have a happier work environment. If we make project interactions pleasant and fun, people will enjoy themselves more. If we really listen to what people have to say and take their suggestions to heart and incorporate it into the project change, they will know that they are making a difference. They will get out of bed with a stronger sense of purpose, a clearer validation of why they didn’t remain under the sheets.

This is one of the things that gives me purpose, one of the reasons why I get out of bed. If I’ve helped individuals be happier at work, I’ve helped them be happier at home, in their families, in their communities, with themselves. Roughly 33% of our life is spent at work so if you’re not happy at work, that is going to impact your happiness away from work.

The above thinking really does motivate me. But it may be a bit too abstract for some people. So how about a more tangible difference?

A more concrete difference

As we are all too well aware, the current financial turmoil in the world is partly due to individual greed. While I do not buy into the whole “witch-hunt” for bankers, no one can argue that a few self-centred individuals helped get us into this situation. And the man-on-the-street taxpayer has had to fork out plenty of cash to keep the system afloat.

Here in the UK, in an attempt to make the system more stable, regulators created the Independent Commission on Banking. This was headed by a man called Sir John Vickers, and the final recommendation report (a.k.a. the Vickers Report) was published in September 2011.

The report focuses on creating stability in the banking sector, as well as making the banking sector more competitive. Both are driven out of the need to protect consumers. In terms of stability, one of the suggestions is to separate retail banking from investment banking, to insulate the taxpayer from risky bets made by investment bankers.

While I have no problem with investment banks, I support the principle of insulation of core banking services that normal individuals require. I don’t think that banks should be too big to fail, and I see merit in protecting the taxpayer. Investment banks should be allowed to take risks, to grow, but when that risk backfires, they should be allowed to fail, to go insolvent. And this must not impact regular Joes like you and me on the street.

As BAs we have the potential to really make a difference to people’s lives. We’re not yet sure how this particular legislation will actually take shape, but whatever the final outcome, BAs will be required to understand the changes and then implement them. Systems will require decoupling, processes will need to be re-engineered, new technology will need to be designed. It will give BAs a real, concrete chance to make a difference to millions of people; to put people in a better position when the next financial crash occurs.

Not convinced?

Are you happy at work? I know a lot of BAs who love what they do, and if you explore the reasons with them it tends to boil down to having meaningful relationships with people. BAs love creating strong networks, we love bridging that gap. We don’t understand when IT and business don’t get along, and drag the project into the mud.

We want to move forward, to put the project in a better place than where it was before we arrived, to put the company in a better place than where it was before the project started. We want to understand people, and reflect that understanding in our work. Through this understanding we create strong relationships that break down silos, which inevitably make people happier.

We often need the concrete evidence to feel like we are making a difference. These examples are such as the Vickers Report – you can see a real difference being made to customers. But the softer things are just as real, a happier employee will contribute more at work, at home, in the community. We do make a difference; remember that next time you hit the snooze button!

The Vickers Report is just one example of how BAs can make a difference. There are others – which have you come across?

This article originally appeared on Bridging the Gap on 24 February 2012. Click here to view the original article.