A Business Analysis Foodie in Las Vegas


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Server_with_attitudeBobtheBA here, as I headed towards my vacation destination of Las Vegas I started to think about the wonderland of Business Analysis that Vegas surely had in store for me. When I travel I am always on the lookout to see how business analysis was and was not applied. I mean, think about it… the financial applications alone in a world where you are geared to lose has extreme business rules written all over it. For the record, I go to Vegas for the world-class restaurants and the shows but gambling does fascinate me and there is business analysis happening everywhere you look. However, the one thing that really caught my attention on this trip was the service and underlying competencies. This cannot be more important than in the food industry in Las Vegas where the economic downturn has turned up the competitive heat for business.

Well, it would be a nice meal… if you can get it.

My dining companion was a Project and Portfolio Manager – which always makes for interesting conversation with BA/PM viewpoints. We had made a reservation at one of our favorite fine dining restaurants in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay. It is helmed by one of our favorite chefs, who is known around the world and is also a frequent guest judge on the Top Chef television series on Bravo. I won’t tell you who but if you put your business analysis foodie detective skills to good use I am sure you will figure out which restaurant and chef. When we got to the restaurant we found out things had changed. The front layout of the restaurant now resembles a sports bar feel (oh dear) and the menu changed from full courses to Tapas (small plates). The inside of the restaurant (where we would be dining) remained a hip, earthy, vibrant scene. On the surface the changes did not bother us too much as we both knew the food would still be great and that this is natural for all businesses. You must reinvent, solve underlying problems and seize opportunities to continue to compete in the highly competitive world of restaurants. Do you see the Enterprise Analysis theme there? When we arrived a few minutes before our reservation we were greeted in a snotty voice “Oh, you… have reservations? The dining room does not open until 5 PM and if you want to eat now you have to sit out here”. And that was that. She turned away. Really? Did I mention she said this while chomping gum? Sigh.

Let’s talk Underlying Competencies shall we? Just like in the restaurant world, it is paramount that you display a modicum of competency in your business analysis efforts. I tell my students that the number one goal of a business analyst is to be asked back on a project. Why? Well it means you either knocked it out of the park with your hard skills or they like you, they really like you (soft skills). In the restaurant world, you want people to like you. For the food (the hard skills) and for the service (soft skills) which equates to experience that brings you back again and again. Back in the restaurant, where was the “Hello! Thank you for coming. We will be happy to seat you in just a few minutes. If you prefer to be seated right away we would love to accommodate here on our lovely open patio area.” Honestly, anything would have been better than her gum chewing, throw us away attitude and response. I am pretty sure that the organization and business principles of the (insert famous chef’s name here) do not embrace that kind of behavior. Certainly her oral communication was not clear or in the language of the people. The audience was not considered. She was influencing us and not in a good way. Her facilitation was lacking with her direct assault engagement. Her problem solving and decision making skills only led to one solution and let me tell you that eating “out here” was not what we came for. In the end, we did not feel comfortable at all. Guess what? That lack of trust was warranted since we did not get seated until 5:15 for a 5 PM reservation. The house manager was clearly having staff and process issues as several guests were left waiting near the sports bar of terror. Does 15 minutes really mean that much? Certainly. It was 15 minutes less time we had to eat and get to our show. It is a plate of food not sold for every person that did not get seated on time. Has 15 minutes ruined one of your requirements meetings? I am sure it has. This is why we have ground rules which help us be successful. As Business Analysts, we must be consistent and talk the talk and walk the walk. Credibility is key to our success. Well, we almost left but stayed when we saw (insert famous chef’s name here) in the restaurant and knew that the food would save the day.

The food was not at issue, it was a lack in demonstrating underlying competencies in the front of house staff. (Insert famous chef’s name here) are you listening? If you get to the root cause of that problem and take action we will be back. If not, we still think that your food is brilliant, you are genuinely nice person and look forward to seeing you on TV and perhaps visiting your other restaurant on the coast. So Business Analysts, make sure you address your front of house skills as much as you address your food skills and you will do well!

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Bob Prentiss is the Client Solutions Director of Business Analysis at Watermark Learning. Bob is CBAP® certified with 14+ years of Business Analysis experience; managing BA Centers of Excellence, assessing/managing BA maturity and competency. Bob stays involved in giving back to the BA community through mentoring and coaching, providing formal training, developing best practices, speaking at industry conferences on topics such as; CBAP® Certification, Centers of Excellence, BA Competency and BA Careers. Bob is a founding member of the IIBA MSP Chapter wearing several hats on the board, currently serving as the Past President and Executive Counsel. [ Follow Bob on Twitter! https://twitter.com/BobtheBA ]

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