by Kitty Hass and Lori Lindbergh, PhD
Our March 5th blog asked the question: How Proficient does your BA Workforce Need to be? And we posed this answer: It depends on the complexity of your BA work assignments, AND it also depends on the focus of your business strategy: continuous improvement vs. continuous innovation.
The terms creativity and innovation are all over the place today, to the point of being over used. However, all the business journals, blogs, articles, and books are singing the same tune: continuous improvement to business-as-usual will not cut it in the 21st century global economy. Businesses that get it...know they must focus on innovation abound: Apple, Google, Netflix, 3M, Frito Lay, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Toyota, GE, BMW, Deloitte, Southwest, Nike, IBM, Dell and many more. These companies have the goal of achieving 30% - 40% of revenue from completely new value streams every year.
Case in point: the Apple iPod delivered 5.5% of total Apple revenue in 2003, within the first three years of launch, and delivered 34.6% of total Apple revenue in 2007, within the first seven years of launch. (Sanjay Dalal. How Successful is your New Innovation? Measuring Business Innovation. Tuesday, December 01, 2009. Read more.)
What is Innovation?
We tend to think of innovation only as it relates to new product development. But creativity and innovation in the business world is not just about inventive new products. It is also about pioneering business relationships and alliances; disruptive business models, ground-breaking processes that bring about efficiencies needed to be competitive; unconventional global supply chains that take advantage of talent around the world; inventive technologies that blow away old paradigms (think Kodak not converting to digital cameras quickly enough); modern approaches to public/private partnerships, and radical approaches to leading project teams modeled after great teams everywhere – Navy Seals, NY Yankees, paramedic and firefighting teams.
How Capable Do Business Analysts Need to be to Ignite Creativity?
Assuming your company needs to focus on innovation, and assuming your organization does not have the creative leaders it needs, BA Practice Leads everywhere need to transition their BA workforce into a cadre of creativity-inducing leaders facilitating real dialogue. They need to talk about creative leadership with respect to their BA team at every turn. My hypothesis is this: business analysts are well positioned to fill the gap in creative leadership at all levels of organizations. To place their best BAs in leadership roles, BA Practice Leads need to identify those BAs who have an inherent leadership disposition, create the appropriate learning opportunities, and strive to influence their current situation and environment to accept BAs as creative leaders of change.
The Challenge for BA Practice Leads and BA Managers: develop a BA workforce of creative leaders. So, if you are a BA Practice Lead or BA Manager, step #1 is to get a snapshot of your BA workforce by conducting a BA Workforce Capability Assessment. From here, you can baseline the capabilities of your analysts and begin developing and transitioning your BA workforce to one that supports creativity and innovation. However, don’t forget about your organizational BA practices. Remember, you must raise analyst capabilities and organizational BA practice maturity concurrently to achieve and sustain innovation and competitive advantage.