Monday, September 3, 2012

Why Should I do a BA Assessment? Know If Your BAs (and Organization) Are Equipped for Innovation.

by Kitty Hass

This belief is held by many managers and executives.  The problem with “what you already know” about your business analysts’ capabilities is that you don’t have actionable information

The Devil is in the Details
Conducting a BA (or PM) Individual or Workforce Assessment based on a validated reference model (see below) provides insights as to your teams’ strengths and opportunities.  The summary report provides details about specific gaps in capabilities that are most likely preventing your team from attaining higher levels of project success, accompanied by actionable recommendations to close the gaps.

BA/PM Workforce Capability Models
I designed the BA/PM individual/workforce capability models to help my clients determine the level of capability that currently exists within their organizations, and the level of capability needed to successfully execute projects based on the complexity of the initiative.  From this information, I are able to identify the gaps in skills and competencies and draft a recommended PM/BA Learning and Development Plan. 

As described in prior posts, my model is four-tiered for both project managers and business analysts as described below.  The levels of the model are based on the escalating complexity of typical BA/PM project assignments, as follows:

Most organizations know they have projects that align with the first three areas of focus. However, many organizations fail to realize a number of their projects are competitive focused; traditional BAs with enterprise-level skills using standard processes and methodologies may not achieve success on competitive-focused projects. Business/Technology Optimization PMs and BAs are business and technology visionaries who serve as Innovation Experts, Organizational Change Specialists, and Cross Domain Experts. Business/Technology PMs and BAs focus outside of the enterprise on what the industry is doing and design innovative new approaches to doing business to ensure the enterprise remains competitive, or even leaps ahead of the competition.  Business/Technology PMs and BAs forge new strategies, translate strategy into breakthrough process and technology, and convert business opportunities to innovative business solutions.

It’s about Innovation
According to the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study, Capitalizing on Complexity, creativity and innovation are essential for a business to remain competitive.  So, if projects bring about innovation, how are we doing?  Only 37% of projects delivered on time, on budget, with required features and functions according to the 2011 CHAOS Report by the Standish Group.  And we don’t even measure business value or benefits in terms of innovation and the resulting competitive positioning.

Achieving innovation requires very different PM and BA competencies.  Enterprise Business Analysis to arrive at the creative idea, and Complex Project Management to implement the innovation.

We must change the way we do projects!

Clearly, the current BA and PM practices are deficient as revealed by our success rates.  To elevate our game, we need to focus on innovation and value; adopt iterative project approaches; and begin using integrated BA tools. That’s how a BA capability assessment can help your organization. You will have the roadmap to achieve the change necessary to ensure your BAs and your organization are equipped to handle innovation.

Monday, August 20, 2012

BA Applied Capability: Is Your Organization Consistent or Inconsistent?

by Kitty Hass

When I conduct a BA workforce Assessment, because of the integrated format of my organizational and individual assessment models, I am able to evaluate BA Applied Capability (BAC). BAC is the collective application of BA Technical Competencies by an organization’s BAs. It is an indicator of skills application consistency (variance) across an organization’s BAs.

Participant skills application levels are aggregated and reanalyzed using a calculation similar to that used for a BA Practice Maturity Assessment; however, BA Applied Capability is not a measure of BA Practice Maturity. See my February 6th posting for more information about the full BA Practice Maturity Model.

The figure below presents an example of an organization’s BAC. The BA Applied Capability of 2.05 in the exhibit reflects skills application inconsistency in Level 2 BA Practices and incomplete application of Level 3 BA Practices created by the variance in skills application across individuals and BAs groups.

Scores over 2.0 indicate that a number of more mature BA skills are being applied. Requirements Analysis, however, is fully applied at the Project Level (2.0). When full application of Project-Level practices is not achieved, upper level practices may be less effective. These less effective practices may impact an organization’s ability to achieve success on more complex projects. In prior assessments and ongoing research, I have found that there is a strong correlation between project complexity and BA Applied Capability. This means that as projects become more complex, organizations need more consistent application of BA practices and complexity management practices across the organization to achieve success on these highly complex projects.

The current level of BA Applied Capability depicted in the exhibit provides a strong foundation for more consistent success on highly complex projects and innovation programs. Basic practices are being performed by BAs on projects and the limited use of higher-level practices may be related to the lack of formal BA training and inconsistent and multiple roles on projects. However, for a more targeted long-term improvement roadmap, one that leads to true BA performance improvement and practice consistency, try out a full BA Practice and Workforce Capability Assessment. You will be glad you did!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

You Think I Should Conduct a BA Assessment? Really?

by Kitty Hass

Have you just assumed responsibility to a team of BAs?  Have you had a group of BAs for a while, but you are still not sure of their capabilities?  Then, our BA Individual and Workforce Capability Assessment is made for you. 
  • Each of your BAs receives two reports, a benchmarking report showing how their capabilities stack up against their peers, and the second is a personal professional development plan containing proposed learning and development suggestions.
  • You receive a summary report providing you with a snapshot of your BA workforce benchmarked against other BA teams in your industry.
Bonus: Kitty Hass is available virtually to help you understand your assessment results and develop learning and development plans for each participant, and/or for the BA lead.

If you would like sample reports from a BA Assessment, please leave a comment here or send an email to

Monday, July 23, 2012

BA Applied Capability: You Are Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link.

by Kitty Hass, PMP and Lori Lindbergh, PhD

In a recent BA workforce capability assessment we conducted, the group average scores for the application of BA skills and competencies were fairly high. Based on our BA Workforce Capability Model (See our February 13, 2012 entry), the organization’s BA workforce consisted of three groups of BAs: Project Focus BAs who worked on moderately complex projects, Enterprise Focused BAs who worked on highly complex project, and Competitive Focus BAs who work on innovation projects and programs. Each groups’ overall average scores met or exceeded the associated BA model expectations and the current BA benchmark scores for each group. What does this mean for the overall organization? Do these findings translate into mature BA practices at the organizational level?

This is where BA Applied Capability comes into the picture. BA Applied Capability examines the consistency of the application of BA practices across the organization and is not affected or masked by computing average scores. What we found in the situation described above was moderate practice consistency across the organization aligned more with Level 2 BA practice maturity. A few BAs in each group (outliers), who indicated higher skills application, were raising the overall averages for each group. By examining BA Applied Capability, the organization was able to identify critical areas of inconsistent skills application and focus its BA improvement efforts.

However, examining BA Applied Capability is only possible if you have integrated and aligned BA measurement models, such as our research-based BA Practice Maturity Model and BA Workforce Capability Model. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an organization’s BA performance outcomes are only as strong as the least-consistent BAs. This inconsistency is often a symptom of knowledge and/ skill gaps and lack of organizational support for effective application of critical BA competencies and supporting competencies. BA Applied Capability translates these individual weaknesses into the weakest links in your BA Practice Maturity. Armed with this information, an organization will be better able to focus its improvement efforts on strengthening the chain and creating improved project outcomes and realization of business value for stakeholders.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Complexity Exceeds BA Capability: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

by Lori Lindbergh, PhD and Kitty Hass, PMP

We have been working on a BA Workforce Capability Assessment for the past few weeks. We have delivered each participant’s assessment report and professional development recommendations and will be conducting individual coaching sessions this coming week. Our workforce assessments also include a group summary report to provide managers with a current snapshot of their BA workforce characteristics and capabilities.

We always look forward to seeing the integrated charts that come out of the assessment findings. These charts examine project complexity, BA skills application consistency, and projected project status for budget, schedule, and scope, and forecasted business benefits. Not surprisingly, we find similar findings in most organizations: The BA capability level required to be successful on the complexity of the organization’s current projects exceeds the actual capability level of the organization’s current BA workforce. And, according to most experts, projects are only becoming more complex.

Most BA participants feel they are over allocated because they are working on multiple projects and have a number of maintenance/service nonproject work assignments. Many are required to play multiple nonBA roles, which further diminishes their ability to perform their BA activities effectively. With a lack of formal BA training, effective processes, and an organization less supportive of BA practices, you have a recipe for failure.

Take a look below at a sample integrated graph from a prior assessment client. The client’s projects included in the assessment were plotted on the graph with project complexity on the vertical axis and project budget, schedule, and scope status on the horizontal axis. Each diamond represents a project; the diamonds are color coded to highlight their status across the horizontal axis. The BA Applied Capability line represents the collective application of BA Technical Competencies in the organization and provides an indicator of BA skills application consistency across the organization.

As projects become more complex, you can see that they tend to become more challenged for budget, schedule, and/or scope (positive correlation). Furthermore, most projects that plotted above the BA Applied Capability threshold (increased complexity) are challenged. The most likely cause for this is: Complexity Exceeds Capability!

In our assessments and our ongoing research, we continually find that there is a statistically significant, positive correlation between project complexity and BA Applied Capability. This means that as projects become more complex, organizations need more consistent application of BA and complexity management practices across the organization to achieve success on these highly complex projects.

If this sounds like what is happening in your organization, where do you start your improvement efforts? The most obvious answers to this question, such as training and process improvement, may not always be the correct answers. Only a BA Workforce Assessment can provide you with the scientific study to help you make the right choices that will have the greatest impact on your BA performance and your organization’s bottom line.

Monday, June 25, 2012

BA Practice Maturity: Speculation Does Not Substitute for Careful Study.

by Lori Lindbergh, PhD and Kitty Hass, PMP

Last week, we stumbled across an informal BA survey conducted by an IIBA chapter. The purpose of the member survey was to examine the status of business analysts and business analysis practices in organizations in the chapter’s service area. Interestingly, one of the items asked the participant to speculate and choose from one of four options that most closely described the characteristics of the BA practices in his or her organization. The four descriptions contained broad generalizations of each maturity level similar to the four levels in our BA practice maturity model. (See the February 13th entry.)

Ah, wouldn’t life be grand if assessing anything, including BA practice maturity, would be this easy? Some may say, “What’s harm in asking a simple question?” The harm may not come from asking the question, but more from the interpretation of the findings. Any time you reduce a complex phenomenon down to one question, you introduce speculation. Speculation is a conjectural consideration of a matter; a conjecture or surmise that may be impossible to verify. Such is the case in the survey we found. The BA practice maturity reported by each participant could not be verified without a full organizational assessment.

Accurately assessing BA practice maturity by simply asking one question to measure one person’s perception/opinion of his/her organization is NOT (and usually never) representative of the overall organization, unless you are an organization of one. Assessing BA practice maturity involves choosing an appropriate sample of representative projects to include in the assessment. It is more complex than one survey question and requires a multidimensional approach including a reliable and valid questionnaire, onsite interviews, focus groups, and deliverables inspections. When we conduct our assessments, we typically find that organizations are more mature in some of the nine dimensions of BA practice maturity and less mature in others. Therefore, a general blanket description of BA practice maturity is never an accurate measure.

This violates an important characteristic of a psychometrically sound measure: Validity. A valid assessment measures what it is supposed to measure and provides strong evidence to support the interpretations made from the assessment. Therefore, using one question to evaluate BA practice maturity, and thus presenting the survey findings as reflective of an organization’s actual BA practice maturity level would be similar to using a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) to speculate on the status of a person’s overall health. A sphygmomanometer is a valid measurement instrument for blood pressure only, and is simply one of a many measurements that are necessary to evaluate fully one’s health.

We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade; there is no harm in conducting a fun, informative survey. Remember, however, your survey respondents have demonstrated interest in your topic by taking the time to complete your survey. They are looking to you as the survey provider to arm them with accurate findings and interpretations that they can use to enhance their knowledge and improve their performance. Be sure to meet their expectations.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Getting Approval for a BA Assessment - Start with a Business Case

by Kitty Hass and Lori Lindbergh, PhD

We know it can be very difficult to get approval to invest time and resources into building a mature BA Practice.  Executives often think this can be done with existing resources.  There are many reasons why this approach almost always fails:
  • Existing resources may not have the knowledge and skills to build a mature BA Practice.
  • Existing resources are often over-allocated.
  • The change is often trivialized, and therefore, no change management plan exists.
  • All BA stakeholders are not involved in planning and executing the change effort.
  • A BA capability assessment is not performed, so it is unclear which foundational practices are flawed, and therefore should be improved first.
To embark upon a BA Practice Maturity Program it is necessary for you to start with a BA Assessment to truly understand the current state and the recommended improvements for the near term.  To propose the BA Assessment, build a solid business case for the effort. Elements of the business case should include the following:

1       Executive Summary

2       Business Need
2.1     Assessment Drivers and Expectations
2.2     Business Goals and Objectives 
2.3     Stakeholders        
2.4     Opportunity Analysis      
2.4.1  Business Problem  
2.4.2  Business Opportunity     
2.4.3  Desired Outcome  

3       Capability Gaps  
3.1     Current Capabilities        
3.2     New Capabilities Required  
4       Solution Approach 
4.1     Potential Options  
4.2     Feasibility Analysis of Options Considered
5       Recommended Solution Scope  
5.1     Description 
5.2     Scope
5.3     Implementation Approach 
6       Business Case      
6.1     Benefits      
6.2     Costs

As with any project investment, without a strong business case, you will most likely have difficulty obtaining the support you need to achieve success. If you would like a sample business case for a BA Assessment, please send an email to

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Communicate With Impact: The Bottom-Line to the Top

by Kitty Hass and Lori Lindbergh, PhD

We cannot stress enough the importance of effectively communicating assessment findings to participants, managers, and your leadership team. Not communicating the findings to all of these groups will undermine the value of your findings. However, presenting basic findings alone, such as BA practice maturity level, strengths and opportunities, and project status is not enough. You must communicate the impact of these findings on your organization’s bottom line.

Not all BA competency and BA practice maturity assessments provide the information and analyses for you to do this, however. This will not be possible with an assessment that provides a single BA competency score, a single practice maturity score, or lacks a reliable and valid data collection instrument. A research-based assessment is the only way to evaluate the impact of your current BA capability level and practice maturity level on your organization’s bottom line.

Let’s take a look at a comparison between typical one-dimensional assessments versus a mature assessment similar our BA workforce capability and BA practice maturity assessments. For this comparison, we are assuming the organization conducted an assessment of its BA workforce competency.

You can see the difference in the findings you will be able to communicate and how you can measure impact in your own organization before and after your improvements and training are implemented and sustained. Linking your BA assessment findings to the bottom line is the only way to get you the attention of the top line.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Time to Check in….

We wanted to take a little break this week and give our readers a chance to let us know how we are doing and provide a few suggestions for our future BA assessment blog entries. We appreciate everyone following and reading our blog each week and want to make sure our entries are helpful and answering your pressing BA assessment questions.

Please take a few minutes to comment on our blog and provide your suggestions for future posts. We would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you,

Kitty & Lori

Monday, May 7, 2012

Avoid the “Deer in the Headlights” Reaction: Humanize Your BA Assessment Findings.

by Kitty Hass and Lori Lindbergh, PhD

When presenting assessment findings to clients, we often see a silence come over the audience and experience a blank stare that we call the “deer in the headlights” reaction. What we are finding, however, is that this reaction is not uncommon and can be challenging to overcome. Many business professionals are unable to develop a connection with statistics and data analyses.

As assessment experts and business analysis professionals, crunching numbers, calculating statistics, and thinking analytically are important capabilities we need to be successful in our jobs. We must remember, however, that our passion about the numbers may not be shared by others. So how can we communicate our passion in a way that fosters understanding and movement in our audiences? Well, at the least a little eye blinking and head nodding would be a great start!

In our April 23rd post about communicating assessment results to executives, we discussed four steps to developing memorable messages. How do you know if you have created a truly memorable message? You will see movement and action, which is how we want our clients to use our assessment findings. Our ultimate goal is to have our clients clearly Visualize the Data so they can make better decisions about their BA performance improvement actions.

What we mean by Visualizing the Data is something called the “Human Scale” Principle. This is a technique used by Covey, Tufte, and other strong presenters; you see this principle used in journalism and marketing, as well. The basic premise is to humanize your data. Make your presentation more than just a series of numbers, statistics, charts, and graphs. This involves knowing your audience and communicating your findings in a way that will have a lasting impact on your clients and guide their behaviors. Humanizing the issue through stories and examples is essential to engage people in the passion of your BA assessment.

Let’s take a look at a generic example. Here is a statistic from the American Council on Sports Medicine:

Only 30% of Americans engage in recommended levels of physical activity.

Sounds pretty bad, right? Bad enough to get you moving? Some of us may have a clear picture of what this means; however, it doesn’t really create a visual image for most. To humanize this finding, we could say this, ”If you walked around your neighborhood and knocked on 10 of your neighbors’ doors, you would most likely find 7 of them sitting on the couch watching television and eating junk food, taking a nap, texting on their phones or iPads, or surfing on their computers. This brings the statistic to life. Your audience can visualize the impact more so than from the statistic.

Here is a BA assessment finding example:

When developing a business case, only 37% of your BAs indicated they have a clear understanding of what the organization is trying to achieve and why.

Again, seems unfavorable, but it’s somewhat of a subjective concept/statement. To humanize this we could say, “If this was the situation for your favorite football team, then only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal was theirs and what to do with it.” The use of this human metaphor gives your audience a visual of the potential chaos in the organization and the impact this finding could have on the achieved business value of their projects.

By now, I think you understand what we mean by Bringing Your Data to Life. Do we use this technique with all of our clients? DEFINITELY NOT. This is where Scalability comes into play.

You need to know your audiences and gauge how they
 would respond to this technique. You have the “Just the facts, ma’am-Show me the numbers” end of the spectrum; these people know what to do with the numbers. And you have those who freeze up like the deer in the headlights and need more than numbers to compel them to act. It took us a little while and several “sleeper” presentations to realize that not everyone is as excited about assessment data and statistics as we are.

Remember, if you do use this technique, be sure to create relevant analogies; you must understand your audience’s desired performance and business outcomes. Presenting your findings in a more creative manner may be the key to helping your audience understand the impacts of their decisions and actions, or non-actions, on the organization. At least you will increase the probability of eliminating the blank stares, stimulating critical thinking and questioning, and creating the movement and action necessary to accelerate your BA performance improvement.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Communicating with Executives to get approval for a BA Assessment

by Kitty Hass

In the previous blog, we emphasized the necessity to customize strategic messages to the individual or group – focusing on the age old wisdom: WIIFM (What’s in it for me?).  In this entry, we will focus on the nature of successfully communicating with busy executives about the value of business analysis and the advantage of using BA assessments as a tool to know where you are and develop an improvement roadmap.

Executive Communications
There are many opportunities for BAs (and PMs) to communicate with executives: 
  •  Proposing a new project initiative
  • Providing project status at key checkpoints and seek approval to move to the next phase
  • Escalating project issues for executive resolution
  • Proposing a course correction for a project
  • Proposing a BA Practice or Workforce Assessment as an effective first step in advancing BA capabilities
Always remember, executives are very busy people with little patience for communications that they don’t really care about.  Communicating at the executive level carries lots of pitfalls:
  • Management is distracted, impatient, overburdened
  • If the message is too long, they will lose interest: be brief and don’t whine (meaning, don’t communicate about issues or barriers without proposing a solution)
  • If a decision is asked for without supporting information, you are not likely to get the decision you want
  • If there is no decision needed, why are you wasting their time? Always ask for a decision, approval, or concurrence
Steer Your Steering Committee
Your message will mean more to executives if you are asking for a decision, not just reporting information. How can you ensure you can get the decision you want? Some critical factors include:
  • Link your message to organizational strategies, goals and objectives
  • Speak native “executive” language
  • Be short and sweet and to the point
  • Communicate to the right person at the right time
  • Be cognizant of existing pressures on executives and other major change initiatives that are underway or planned
  • Link your message to the culture and political norms
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the message immediately after each meeting
Getting the Decision You Want
To get the decision you want, alternative analysis works every time.  Assemble a small group of experts, people who are respected, influential, and credible.  Select individuals who have differing perspectives, e.g., a senior project manager or the PMO director, an architect, a business visionary.  Make sure they are system thinkers, risk takers, and innovators.  Facilitate the group through an analysis of the situation. It goes something like this.

Step 1: Clearly state the Problem/Opportunity in Business Terms
What are the business problems or drivers that are leading up to the idea of conducting a BA assessment and as the first step toward improving business analysis at your organization?  It might be:
  • We have too many failed projects
  • We don’t know if our project solutions add value to our customers and wealth to our organization
  • We are not strategically focused when executing on a project
  • Requirements don’t hit the mark because of gaps in BA capabilities, causing costly rework
Consider the chart below listing the BA capability gaps found in virtually all organizations today. Any one or all of these may be present in your organization.

Or projects could be costing too much and taking too long. Consider the cost premium for a BA workforce that is not capable enough.

Or Business Analysis practices are not commensurate with the project complexities facing our project teams.  See gap in capabilities vs. project complexity in the chart below, determined by conducting research on the state of BA practices in organizations in multiple industries: Insurance, Financial Services, Information Systems/Information Technology, Non-Profit/Government, Health Care, and Transportation.

Or our Business Analysts and Project Manager capabilities may not be commensurate with the project complexities facing our project teams.

After analysis, determine the best problem statement.  More examples of your problem/opportunity statement:
  • Business Analysis capabilities are not commensurate with the project challenges facing our project teams.
  • To greatly increase the number of successful projects, we must increase our focus on the business.
  • To be able to measure business benefits from project deliverables, we must increase our Business Analysis capabilities.
  • To execute our strategy, we must have stronger BA capabilities.
  • Or something way cool you came up with when designing memorable messages (see April 23rd blog).

Step 2: Divergent Thinking - Idea Generation

Create a safe environment and encourage your team of experts to generate as many ideas as possible to solve the problem or seize the opportunity.  Encourage the experts to think “outside the organization” – look at the entire ecosystem surrounding your company.  When facilitating:

  • Accept all options
  • Look for unusual possibilities and combinations
  • Combine like ideas, build on other’s ideas
  • Encourage participants to challenge each other, experiment, get crazy,
  • be chaotic, “get in the zone”
Examples of potential options:

Step 3: Convergent Thinking - Analyze, Refine, Prioritize

  1. Refine and prioritize the list of ideas
  2. Build a feasibility analysis worksheet (see example below)
    • List all high-priority ideas in the first column of your feasibility analysis matrix
    • Determine decision criteria, e.g., cost, time, cultural feasibility, technical feasibility, etc. and list across the top of your feasibility analysis matrix
  3. Determine the feasibility of each high-priority option
  4. Analyze the feasible options
  5. Decide! The most feasible option(s) should stick out.
Feasibility Analysis Matrix

Step 4: Prepare Message to Executives
  1. See 4/23 blog to prepare a memorable, effective message
  2. Prepare a 1-page handout that contains:
    • The problem/opportunity statement
    • The pitch/elevator speech outlining the recommendation to conduct a formal BA Capability Assessment
    • The alternative analysis matrix that provides the rationale for the recommendation
    • The experts involved in the identification of options, the feasibility analysis, and formulating the recommendations
In most cases, once executives understand that you have identified a business problem, and a group of experts have come together to identify the most feasible solution, you will get the green light to proceed.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Memorable Messages: The Who, What, Where, When, and How to Convert Your Executives to BA Assessment Believers.

by Kitty Hass and Lori Lindbergh, PhD

So, we have spent the last few months singing the praises of real, scientifically-based assessments.  But how in the world can you convince your management team of the value? 

It’s a Daunting Road Ahead

As you can see in the table below, there are many elements that need to be in place to implement a mature BA Practice.  So, it begs the questions: How are we ever going to get there?  How fast can we get there?  How do we know what to work on first?

Cultivating Mature BA Practices – the Message

BA Assessments are the first step in building a mature BA Practice.
Why?  Because assessments provide:
  • Information about the current state of your BA practices (you need to know where you are), and…
  • A roadmap to more valuable BA practices (you need to know where you are going), and…
  • The readiness to accept and support the new BA practices (you need to know who is on your train, and who is off your train), and…
  • An understanding of how BA will bring value to your customers and wealth to your organization (or why else are we investing in projects?)
So you know all this, but your message to your leadership team must be short, memorable, and convincing.

BA Practice Assessment – In Brief
  • What is it?
    • An independent appraisal of Business Analysis practices
  • Why do it?
    • Provides a foundation for improvements to ensure business value is generated from project investments
  • How is it used?
    • Determines where we are today; where we want to be in the future
  • How is it conducted?
    • Uses an appraisal process based on assessment best practices
  • BA practices assessed against what?
    • Current capabilities are compared to a BA Practice Maturity Model based on project complexity and benchmarked against a global data base

Building a Memorable Message
The secret to effective strategic communications is to devise custom messages for each of your key stakeholders.  For the message to be memorable, take your team through these steps.

Step 1: Assess your Political Environment

Quickly assess your organization’s readiness to invest in mature BA Practices. 

Step 2: Identify your Audience

From your environmental assessment, identify individuals and/or groups that you need to convince. Note: this information may be sensitive; if so, use numbers to indicate the stakeholders.

Step 3: Identify Influence Strategies

When identifying influence strategies, be sure to keep these in mind:
  • What’s in it for them?
  • What do they need to view BA Practices positively and actively support the assessment and subsequent improvements?
  • What actions will you take?

Step 4: Get your Message Heard - and Remembered
There are four steps to developing memorable messages targeted at executives.  Facilitate a small team of experts through these activities.
  1. Compose a customized message for each stakeholder
    • Determine the purpose of the message
    • Tailor the message to each individual or group
    • Write from the stakeholder’s perspective
    • Use the information in your political and audience analysis for help 
  2.  Add memorable phrases
    • Use short phrases that adroitly to capture the heart of your message
    • In media, these are referred to as sound bites: they stand out in the audience's memory and thus become the "taste" that best represents the entire "meal" of the larger message or conversation (hence, “sound bite”
    • To be memorable, they must:
      • ü  Clearly and cleverly make the point
      • ü  Capture the message in a snippet
    • Examples,
      • ü  I have a dream – Martin Luther King
      • ü   The Buck Stops Here – Harry Truman
      • ü  All politics is local - U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill
      • ü  Building Locomotives to Move Freight to Your Home Town – G
    • BA Examples:
      • ü  Successful Projects Hard To Achieve? Not Anymore!
      • ü  It’s not about the Technology – it’s about the Business!
      • ü  A Day without Business Analysis is like a Day without Sunshine
      • ü  A Day without Business Analysis is like a Day without Value
      • ü  Business Analysis: our Best Defense Against Project Failure
      • ü  Assessment first - Improvements second - Value third
      • ü  Assessment first - Improvements second - then comes Value
      • ü  Building Business Analysis to Drive Wealth to our Bottom Line

3.  Develop clever slogans and mottos
    • Short phrases are memorable, are used as a rallying cry, intend to be motivational – cause the audience to act.
    • Used to express the aims or nature of an enterprise, organization, candidate, or BA Practice; often expresses a valuable aim or purpose
    • Examples:
      • ü  Don’t Leave Home Without It – American Express
      • ü   Yes, We Can – Obama, 2008 campaign
      • ü  Pure Systems – IBM
      • ü  A Smarter Planet – IBM
      • ü  Imagination at Work - GE
    • BA Examples:
      • ü  Value Driven by Business Analysis
      • ü  Get the Business Analysis Habit
      • ü  The Business Analysis Effect
      • ü  Smarter Projects
      • ü  Pure Value
      • ü  Business Analysis at Work coverts to Value


4.  Trim the message to become your "pitch" or your "elevator speech"
    • Delivered in 30 seconds/100-150 words
    • Used by:
      • Entrepreneurs pitching an idea to a venture capitalist
      • Project managers, sales people, evangelists, policy-makers, job seekers, speed daters, and
      • Business Analysts to sell their value
    • Compelling; the “hook” that catches people to further engage
    • Use catch phrases, mottos, and slogans to be memorable

You may only get one change to craft and deliver your message. So create a clear, memorable message that will catch your executives’ attention and stick. Remember, sticky messages make a difference by triggering emotions and feelings in your audience. The emotional reaction is what will call your executives to action.

Next week, we will discuss strategies for communicating the compelling message you have created to your executives.