Leadership mastery for business analysts

Business analysts have a pioneering role to play in organisational transformation in tough economic times. To operate to maximum effect they must understand leadership.


As an organisation, there is only one way for you to accelerate through these difficult times, and stand in a very strong competitive position in all economic climates:That is, to get back to business.

Business Analysis Conference 2009

This article is the first in a series of contributions by keynote speakers at the Business Analysis Conference 2009 in London on 28-30 September

This sounds very simple, and it is, however, that does not make it easy. After all, in organisations, we must never underestimate the ability of people to make the simple, so very complex.

Getting back to business means learning the lessons from the last economic downturn, when too many organisations simply did not learn from their past mistakes. It means applying a healthy dose of common sense, and it offers a fantastic opportunity to business analysts everywhere.

Business madness

In the last economic downturn, driven by consultancy hype, academic jargon and very short memories, many organisations simply repeated what they had done over and over – spend valuable money, resources and time on so-called change initiatives. And as a result at they stood completely still – at best. At worst, they died.

Forgive the emotive language, but they did – they were taken over, or they went bust. In addition, in those companies that survived, they found themselves with their greatest asset – their people – largely unfulfilled.

Experts called it the “Information Age.” I call it business madness – keeping on doing what you have always done, while expecting a different result.

Time for change

It is time to shape a future that is very different from the past. We have spent much energy, time and money, looking for success, answers and leadership from outside, from without, when they have always been available from within.

Taking advantage of thiswill require a radical new approach to leadership – and business analysts have a pioneering role to play in this transformation. Indeed, as a business analyst, you must take that lead.

What to do

Success, as defined by you, does not happen by accident – when you, your teams and projects, and your organisation are successful, it is the result of a structure. You have always followed a specific formula:

  1. Know where you want to go
  2. Know where you are now
  3. Know what you have to do, to get to where you want to go, or who you want to be
  4. Do it

So, as a business analyst, your role is to be leaders, facilitators, internal consultants even, to achieve specific outcomes. This involves Information Technology (IT), but goes way beyond it (after all, IT has to get back to business as well).

In my session at the Business Analysis Conference, I will share with you exactly how to perform each of these roles, based on real case studies from world-class organisations in over 30 countries.

Know where you want to go: Cause over cash

It is time to get back to business - to focus on the very core of what you do, the reason you exist.

Spell it out. It must be clear, concise and compelling – understandable by both a ten year old, and your mother.

There must be buy-in from everyone in the organisation – to do this, have everyone in your team come up with their own view – why they come to work in the morning, and ask them to compare their “personal vision” with that of the organisation. You will find over 90% have a match – the rest don’t belong and will leave one way or another.

The leadership keys: Have a bold ambition –hold your heads up, while your competitors are losing theirs.

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