“If you always do what you have always done, you will get what you always got.” Einstein, Twain, Ford have all been credited with this very powerful quote about change, and yet it really does not matter which of them actually said it, what matters is, that its intent is true. This quote is written on a whiteboard in the office where I go to “weigh-in” for my diet program. Yes, I call it a “diet program” and not a “lifestyle change” and we can debate about the psychology of that approach (or not), but the point is, I recognize that I have to do something different to succeed or I will always get/do the same things. As I write this article I am down 51 lbs and clearly, that change is good for me, and I have succeeded because I did not do the same things I have always done. For many though, change is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or something they must suffer through like bad weather, a cold or the flu season. As unfortunate a truth as that is, real success is difficult to achieve without change. If you stay the same, you will get passed by as individuals, departments, or organizations by the latest and greatest or simply those willing to more readily embrace change. I like change, I just wish my change included more chocolate, potatoes and bread thank you very much.
Our profession of business analysis is founded on change. Process improvements, a top-down decision, new ideas, fixes, all driving us towards taking the needs of the business and transforming them into future success. I am often in discussions with colleagues where we talk about our role as business analysts being infinitely complex, mysterious and most people cannot figure out what we do (no matter how much we tell or show them). However, if we just look at it logically, practically, our role is transparently obvious. We help people change for the better – we are change agents. So why don’t we do more promotion that we are change agents? “Hi, my name is Bob and I am here to help you transition to your new and amazing future!” Well, the inference for most people (based on their experiences) is that the change the BA is promoting creates a dystopian world fueled by fear, propaganda, big brother, the removal of freedom, and eventual conformity. The cries of the people shout out “Why can’t we just continue to do what we have always done? We were comfortable. Why are you making our lives miserable?!”
We have all heard the sayings that “change is constant”, “change in inevitable”, “change or die”, but that does not mean that change is any easier to digest. On the flipside, there are of course, many individuals who embrace change, they embrace it at superhero speed like the Flash. They crave change at a pace that is impossible to predict, sustain or achieve. They cry out “Change happens, get over it! Change coming through! Change is going to happen!” We don’t fear what is familiar, common, and comfortable, but we do fear (and it is perfectly natural to do so) what is thrust upon us, the something unknown, or changes to our routine. Without change we cannot move forward, overreach and progress. Change is necessary. Let’s be clear, I am a big believer in process, standards, and structure but we need to find a way to make change easier to deal with. There needs to be a clear strategic road map for change at all levels of the organization.
As a change agent, the business analyst is a motivator and leader with a clear vision for change that helps the business understand how their future will be bigger, brighter, easier, and more profitable. They are uniquely situated as a liaison among stakeholders to be the ultimate change agents. There has been tremendous progress in the promotion of the business analyst role but much still needs to be done. Leaders of organizations have an opportunity to help solidify the role of the business analyst/change agent, and develop a culture that embraces change.
So what can you do to become the change agent your organization needs? What can you do to help solidify the role of the business analyst , your change agent in your organization?