Over the last year plus, about the lifespan of this blog, MUCH has changed in our of business analysis. After I wrote the post about the disruption to our world in August, I continued to think about what the changes that we are facing really mean. We are all at different points of our careers, so the impacts to our thinking, our reactions and our ability to change are also varied. For context, here's a potential scenario sample list. Then, let's talk about how we can respond to transform and stay relevant, if we find ourselves in one of the scenarios.
|Your State||What's Changing|
|Old-School Traditionalist||You cut your teeth on core skills and BA skills before they were actually named real BA skills. You've stuck to the these tenets throughout your career, fought against specialization, and even still resist allowing business to have a say in design...and now the entire industry is shifting underneath you. Your title doesn't match, no one seems sold on whatever those core skills are, Agile has no place for you and product ownership is like learning Chinese.|
|Mid-Career Hanger-On||You worked hard and got yourself into a key role, maybe even management, some years back. You've been buried in organizational chaos, the improvements you brought to bear and have since relaxed to proudly watch it all work together. Very satisfying until the layoff was just announced, and you realized you haven't paid any more attention to your professional development than annual compliance training for the last ten years.|
|Finally Arrived||You've been working your tail off to move up the experience and responsibility ladder for the last five years, or so. You've done everything right, taken some additional classes, got your intermediate certification and finally got a promotion to Senior BA. Then the organization you work for switched strategies toward digital transformation and agile methodology.|
|Up-and-Comer||It was tough during the fist couple of years, but this year is YOUR year to "get it" and cement that BA role you've been trying to move up to. All that hard work has positioned you really well, and you're already performing the primary duties of the sought after role. This morning, though, your organization announced a shift to Scrum, and you know enough to realize there is no role called "Business Analyst" in this new world. Is that really true?|
|Freshly Slapped Awake||After graduating last Spring, you just landed a role in your studied profession of choice, Business Analysis. Three days after starting the new job, you're thrown into a large project with little guidance and told to elicit and document the requirements for a new initiative....and provide an estimate.|
What You Can Do to Take Control of your Career Learning
Interestingly enough, each of these simple scenarios, as well as a hundred variations of them, have a few things in common. They all feature complacency, reactiveness, emotion-driven responsive action, or even surprise. The very first thing that you can start doing in a reactive situation is to promise yourself to never allow that to occur again. Reactive response puts you at a disadvantage and impairs your ability to learn due to stress. Plan it out in small increments based on time, topic, need, urgency that will allow you to take the beginnings of control back.
If you've realized that you've held onto something too long, learned something that turned out to be less valuable than you thought, got behind on the change curve or just plain got lazy; it's time to fix that.
- Get online and read or listen through the blogs, articles, YouTube videos, podcasts, speeches, slide decks, and white papers.
- Identify the trends, buzz words, etc. that recruiters and organizations are seeking. There's likely to be a lot that has changed, so don't panic. Take a few days to read and absorb.
- Decide on your path based on the criteria you want to use. Least resistance, most interesting, highest demand...you choose.
- Identify the key skills you will need and then map them to your current resume. Then, rewrite your resume and do it again.
- Identify any gaps in what you will need to walk your chosen path, and identify any skills that transfer nicely from your old "you" to the to-be" you.
- Identify any key resources, tools and/or PEOPLE that will help you retrain your mind, guide you with direction and rebrand yourself. Don't try to change the world on your own: network, contribute, volunteer....yes all while you look for a job or struggle to reinvent yourself. Immerse yourself in your new culture.
- Identify specific and affordable training with advice from peers. Be sure to inquire about the value of certifications, degrees, domain knowledge, etc. in your new role; then, carefully select high value offerings from reputable providers (even mentors 🙂 )
- KEEP GOING!
Change Your Mindset
A change in your professional life, even if you are a person who stays relatively on top of things, can really be an eye-opener! Instability can come as a surprise and upset your day to day routine, but recognize these changes as reflection of the world around you. We business analysts have been promoting change for years to our customers, but it's important we listen to our own sermons. The rapid pace of change seen in our own profession within the last 9-12 months is astonishing, and the pace will accelerate as new calls for new skills come out to respond to market demand and shifts for organizations.
Don't. Stop. Learning.
Your education is no longer a one-and-done event marked by a certificate or graduation. We need to appreciate that our efforts are long and hard, but the results are obsolete as soon as they are completed. Fine. Continue to iteratively learn and build on what you started! Train on new updates or releases, read market journals to raise awareness of trends and change, network more actively to absorb the "buzz" from others so you can PROACTIVELY react, and read!
Get yourself as far out ahead of impending career or professional change impacts due as you can; you'll be smarter for it....and not just because you read 143 technical books.