Gaining Diverse Experience to Deliver Value with Paul Benn

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In this conversation, Paul Benn and I explore the importance of gaining diverse experience to deliver value as a business analyst and the future productisation of business analysis skills.

Paul is a self-employed business analyst. He is passionate about building skills and community, doing so as a coach, mentor, public speaker and the organiser of the Capability Drive conference.

Here are just a few of the highlights in this episode:

๐Ÿšช๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿฅฑ "The way I got into business analysis is pretty boring." Paul shares his backstory of being asked to implement a new reporting system as an SME. Despite lacking knowledge in business analysis, he took on the role and completed the project. His success led to an offer to become a business analyst.

๐Ÿข ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป ๐Ÿ’ค ๐Ÿค–   "Few business analysts are tapping into AI." Paul perceives that many businesses are not recognising the benefits of artificial intelligence. He believes this may be because they are too focused on the business side and not keeping up with technological advancements. But by neglecting the potential opportunities that AI can provide, they are missing out on valuable ways to improve the business.

๐Ÿงฑ ๐ŸŒ ๐Ÿ’ก "It's a fundamental BA skill, being able to relate different pieces of information and build ideas off that." Paul emphasises the importance of taking concepts from past experiences, from previous jobs, from other business analysts, and different industries. He underlines the need to synthesise this information, to spot the relationships between components, and the conflicts between data to find valuable information. From this point, we can build upon it to generate ideas.

๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ โŒ "I think it's time to drop the title business analyst.Paul believes that the business analyst job title restricts us and suggests that our skills should be the focus instead. Removing the title would allow us to utilise our abilities in various roles, emphasising the value business analysis skills bring.

๐Ÿ’๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ ๐Ÿฅ„ "Business analysis is moving to productisation and componentisation of your skills." Paul thinks we're quickly moving towards offering our products and services based on our skills and client needs. He believes this approach is a better way to engage, from short one-day workshops to longer six-month projects, and ultimately builds highly versatile business analysts.

๐Ÿฅ… "You've got to find your niche." We close out with a short ditty about finding your passion, finding your niche, and building yourself up slowly towards an intentional goal.

Tune into the episode below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your podcast player of choice. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Business Change Academy skills development and career building business analysis courses.

The transcript of this episode can be read here.

  • [01:11] Paul's backstory of how he got into business analysis from being an SME
  • [05:07] The evolution of business analysis over the years
  • [08:49] Expanding your knowledge through volunteering
  • [13:45] Business analysts are typecast by a misunderstanding of what it is we do
  • [16:33] Many BAs are not picking up on the rise of AI as they are too close to the business
  • [20:41] How having the breadth of experience lifts up the core skills needed for the job 
  • [23:11] Walking into a room and solving a problem, no matter the problem
  • [27:53] Connecting the dots, including dots that other people don't see
  • [31:27] It's time to drop the Business Analyst title, or is it?
  • [38:41] Shifting to service thinking, finding niches and productising your work

What was your favourite quote or insight from this episode? Please let me know in the comments. ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

๐Ÿง  Add your brains to the  ๐Ÿ‘‰ Future Business Analyst survey.

Joe Newbert 0:00
Hey, everyone is Joe. Welcome to another episode of the future business analyst podcast. My guest today is Paul Benn, a self employed business analyst, a coach, a mentor, and a conference organizer of capability. Dr. Welcome to the show, Paul.

Paul Benn 0:20
i Thanks, Joe. It's good to be here.

Yeah, thanks for inviting me. I'm I was surprising when you said, I've got a voice and I thought of myself as having a voice. So yeah, thank you for inviting me. And it's good to see you again and be a part of what you do.

Joe Newbert 0:41
Yeah, no, it is nice. I appreciate you, you Braving this, this pot, you know, it can be a little bit daunting, sort of trying to put our ideas out there, particularly for something as unknown as the future. So yeah, I'm glad you're happy to have a spin of this. And we'll see what we come up with at the end of the episode. To start us off, though, tell me how did you get into business analysis? What's your backstory?

Paul Benn 1:11
I actually think my, the way I've gone to business is pretty boring, because it's probably the way that most of us get into business analysis. And that is by default. And that is a was working for old mutual in Cape Town. Okay, is a portfolio administrator didn't have a clue about personality at that point in time, what is what is math. And I was then asked to work on a project to implement a new reporting system from overseas, and then I essentially filled the role of business analyst on that project together with a colleague of mine. And yeah, we implemented the project, we then went over to UK, probably spent more time in pubs and actually did in the office, but we got some work. And, and then came back and there was often say, Well, we think you should be in business. And it's like, okay, what what is it? And then that's, that's how I got into it. And and, yeah, and the mom was speaking coaching people, the more I read, I think it's the way the majority of us get into it. You know, it's not something, you know, you go to uni and you, you learn, I'm going to be a bit present, you go, you go study information, manager or whatever. And then, and then you end up later on in life becoming MBA.

Joe Newbert 2:43
Yeah, no, it is it is. Yeah, it is a sort of similar story. For many of us. Interesting. I mean, I do I do quite a bit of sort of guest lecturing at universities. And I must say, I feel like that route from university to business analysis is becoming a little more trodden than it has in the past. But, but still, you're right, I feel like you've come from the left sort of business into this profession, where you come from the right, you come from sort of, I don't know, a development or test sort of deeper down the SDLC. And then into it. But yeah, it's often accidental, isn't it? And I'm assuming you were sort of SME slash ba that was?

Paul Benn 3:23
Yeah. So you said, I mean, I had become the SME on the project together my colleague, and that's, that's how we would then try and unmute crossed into business that it probably wasn't only because of any three years later, that I actually formed me waiting did it qualification in business analysis at company that should have mentioned in your in your?

Joe Newbert 4:04
Tell me, how many years have you been in this game? What sort of numbers are we talking?

Paul Benn 4:10
I actually was looking at this because I'm busy. I update my LinkedIn profile. And it's 28. Just over 28 years now.

Joe Newbert 4:18
Okay. 28 years, right?

Paul Benn 4:21
Yeah. And you can still 16 You met.

Joe Newbert 4:26
How does that work? But I mean, let's just say that's a chunk. Right? That's a good, that's a good chunk. So talk to me about the evolution that you've seen over that 28 years. I'm interested to hear your perspective on this. And the reason I say your perspective, it's because of that SME coming from business. Often when I speak to people who've approached this profession from the other side, let's say programming or something. They describe it in a particular way. And I'm interested to see if, if you've got similar observations having come from a sort of different source to them. What's what Steve? What what evolution have you seen?

Paul Benn 5:07
It's quite, that's quite an interesting question. I was hosting a podcast last week, the ego from Australia. And he was talking about specialization was generalization actually triggered this? The answer to this question, actually, because when I started out as a business, I was a SME in reporting. Okay. And so I started out as a reporting specialist, that was, what I was, the first 10 years of my career as a business analyst was reporting. That's all I did. And I then went to go study at the nameless company, and to be a business analyst. And that construct opened my world a little bit more likeable. There's a lot more to this craft of business analysis than just me configuring a system, understanding what to use new designing report putting in place, and so forth and so on. But the problem was that I had become stuck in the role that it wasn't because I was seen as reporting specialists and that's all I was seen as, and I wasn't removed off anything else, because reporting was was their bread and butter. I then got an offer at a company called back then was called friend sources now called Making fan services. And I think they've just changed the name again. But I remember having 10 years at our mutual that point and really kind of coming on. And I only mentioned that because I think it's really important for for bas out there. When I think about the career progression. Remember, my managers time, led Howard Smith saying, quote, If you don't put your resignation, my desperate, no doubt I'm gonna kick you out. amok, I was like, what about that bed? He said, No. He said, No, if you want to grow, you've got to get out. You've got to go and experience the world. And so I then went across to do to make you find services. And I started working. I started with importing, but I got involved in other projects as well. And that was the move from specialist into generalization. And I think for the next few years, that's exactly what I did. I started to generalize and then start to spread out, spread out, Spread out, spread out a lot more. In in that process as well. Starting Oh, Bucha remember, my background is not it at all. I had no IT background. I think I mean, it I've done it to uni was computer systems, you know, remember those big floppy disks. Sticking? That's what I got taught on on that? I did one program was in COBOL. And never got to compile a hand and I said, I don't care. And but you know, yeah, I'm not a coder. I've got some I've got SQL skills. But that has been self taught as I've gone along. So once I've studied businesses, and I've got my certification, low skills, I've learned is been just trying things and doing some sort of peripheral stuff and working out what works for me and what doesn't work for me. I think the next big interesting change for me in businesses was we when Ryan foster approached me to run the webinars in South Africa. That was the next big day for me because that volunteer process started and kicked off another aspect of my career because then suddenly, I saw, okay, there's a lot more to what I already know. I thought I knew everything. There's a lot more to what I already know. And then the certification, things started to kick into me into me now, I don't say to everyone go and do certification. I think you've got to have a really good reason and you are for certification. For me, I knew I wanted to go into that that kind of thought leadership where I can I can influence people in their careers. And so for me certification was a way of getting better that st credit credit but he said, You know, I've got something behind me kind of understand the process. And together with all the experience, I can do this And then that kind of kicked into the next process of opening up to international opportunities, which is when that I made the point to move to New Zealand after I've made an offer in New Zealand. And I think that's also important because that evolution, Maitreya kind of was sparked by a conversation with my brother, who lives in New Zealand as well. And he said, poor stop thinking yourself as a citizen of South Africa, but as a citizen of the global world. And that was way before we had, you know, we teams and zooms, and having online meetings and virtual meetings was a big thing. It was, it was, it was the, but it wasn't a big thing as it is now. And so that was interesting, because as soon as I started thinking, that mom, my whole sort of viewpoint of life, you know, that I will always work here always been this place always in that will stay the same. And I think that's also led to me, now being where I am today, in that I, I have become self employed. And I work across the world now. So, you know, I can I do some work in Australia, I do some work up in Auckland, and Wellington and and it's really become that bigger space for me to be able to be used my talents in a particular way, and to productize what I do, rather than tied to a fixed role in a fix system and a fixed way of doing things. Yeah. So in that, I mean, I could go on just talk forever. But in a nutshell, that's kind of my obligation. We

Joe Newbert 11:46
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, everybody's journey is different, when I was sort of trying to bounce off what I was trying to hear, you know, sort of, I'm always interested about how people have seen business analysis develop, like, over their careers, right, because because things do shift and change, but we all have different perspectives of it as well. And what I typically hear from the people who did start in programming, is that they, they sort of perceive that this profession has moved closer to the business over the years. And I don't dispute that I think, I think it has, but then it's interesting to speak to you, as somebody who came from the business and like the little things that I heard you drop in there was like, I needed to get a bit more technical, I sort of had a dabble in COBOL. I know a little bit of SQL. So you've got these people who are sort of moving across the one way, and there's their strengths is technical. So they're trying to get that business. But for you because your strength was business, you're trying to get that technical, which sort of shows that like the evolution of this thing is different for different people. And sort of where they came from. But But one thing that you said in there, I want to sort of let's let's sort of pull this back now into talking about the future rather than the past. And perhaps the profession more broadly. I feel like you gave a great example of that. And you made me think of the word typecast. So when you were first employed, and you were this reporting SME, and you got pulled into business analysis, and you were a business analysis, reporting, SME, right. And, and you were told to leave but you were typecast. Right? Do you think business analysts broadly, a typecast? When you think about what you know, what do other people think about the profession? Are we sort of stereotyped are we typecast as well?

Paul Benn 13:45
I think we are typecast but I think a typecast is coming from a misunderstanding what we do. So I'm not sure what when it's like it's left I haven't been used. But one of the things that that I've noticed yet in in New Zealand is that business, particularly typecast as either documenters or let's bundle all these tasks that we haven't got time to do and give it over to business analysts. And what I am seeing and was interesting, he made a comment that business being drawn there I'm seeing business being drawn closer to the business

then than anything else, and I think is a bit of a danger in net.

Because we if you're working on on site, like an IT related project, you kind of need to be in the middle between the two, because you need to be helping and I'm not going to use it that old cliche about the bridge because a few of you But, yeah, so we've, we've got to kind of sit in the middle and be helping these two sides to come together and understand each other. And when we get drawn more to the business side, I think we, we kind of lose the focus of an understanding what's happening in the technical side. And I'll give you an example of that. So we know that, you know, the next revolution that seems to be on the rise is AI and, and all of that. Now, what seems interesting to me is how many bas are not actually picking up up on that with their circles the business side, that they're not got the eyes and focus on what's happening in the technology world that I can bring into the business and help the business with.

Joe Newbert 15:45
But don't I mean, if I look at the kinds of things that are posted about AI comes from a lot of people from a lot of different industries, a lot of different specialities. It could be marketing, for example, or it could be some assembly in a sort of manufacturing space. So I do feel that AI is probably something that is visible to everybody. I would suggest and not just IT folk, did you see it differently?

Paul Benn 16:13
Oh, no, no, I don't see. No, I agree the word of what I think the point I was trying to make is, how few bas of all tapping into the AI. Think about that, that really that fabrico posted. Yeah, we had that. And I'm not sure whether it was a staged or whether it was actual Chatbot. But it doesn't matter that the concept was there. And how he used that so effectively, to use AI to help him as a business analyst. Yeah, yeah. Not what I picked up in that video is he didn't, he didn't pass on his skills to an AI. Machine. He actually employed in US conceptual thinking. He asked questions, use some observation of the data that came up. Here, he had a system thinking approach to it, though, he would ask the Chatbot give me this kind of information, and include the filing filing. And so he was still using new business skills, he was using a chatbot to be more effective in using the skills. Now, the thing is, what I'm seeing is that and I've had a few conversations now, interesting. One organization here in Wellington has banned the use of chat duty GBG in organizations. And the point is like, Yeah, but we're scared of data loss and data breaches and all that. Well. Yeah. Okay, that that is that is a real risk. But instead of banning it, how do we use it? effectively? And properly? And safely, safely? Yeah. So in talking to do other businesses, but a lot of them now Well, I'm not using I'm not using any AR I'm not using the chat? GBG? I'm not, because I think it's unethical. And because I think it's, you know, it's not my work and all that and, and that's why I think that we just need to kind of like really make sure that they can tune with what's happening on the ITA, you don't have to be technical, you don't have to be a program. But just understanding the concepts out there and the use cases, and how you could apply it within within your, your, your current role. I think one of the one of the things has been very successful in my career is the number of different industries I've worked in. And that is that I've worked in defense of working half I've worked in logistics, I've worked in banking, finance investments, I've worked in health, I've worked in local government, national government, insurance, and that. But the one common thing is that I found across all them, is that what I've learned from each of them, I can bring into the others and start to apply that that knowledge. Yeah. And you know, and it's the same concept. Yeah, it's being able to kind of look at what's happening in our space and say, What can I do within my organization to help me and the business and coming back to you and and I'm waffling. But yeah, but but to come back to your to your, your earlier comment about AI coming out of marketing and all that. Yes. 100% should be, but also remember years of the business, your fundamental role is to influence decisions. I know the Bible talks about change, but you really go down deep into it. It's about influencing decisions about influencing strategy about influencing people to take a direction to make a decision. So you should be at the forefront of that. Yeah.

Joe Newbert 19:53
Yeah. There's a lot in there's a couple of things I want to jump back to let's jump back first of all, I want to talk about you say you've worked in a number of different industries, I really like that. Something I can relate to, I have to and I felt one thing it gave me was context independence. And what I mean by that is, it actually doesn't matter what projects you put me in what industry that you put me in, I've sort of got the pure skills that I need to be able to do a problem solving job, and influencing a decision kind of job and enabling change kinds of job, have you found as well, that that sort of, like having having had that breadth of experience, and it actually just almost just lifts up those core skills for you?

Paul Benn 20:41
It does, and laughs In my role, as part of the reason why I've gone independent as a contractor. So because I find more and more that I've been brought in as almost like an advisor. Okay, you know, how do you think we should tackle this? How do you think we should solve this? How do you? What's your thoughts? You know, those those are typical kind of questions that that I'm getting now as opposed to, in the past? Can you do a requirements document on the filing wall? Can you find out what the requirements are? This is not, it's more the question. And the way of being and being involved is different. So, you know, it's interesting that I do very little requirements, document writing now. And more business and as consulting. How can we not organizations kind of figure out their direction and, and that kind of stuff. And I think that that not only because of the breadth of the industry that I've worked in, and being able to apply different concepts across the industry, but also because of the years experience I've got working in industry.

Joe Newbert 21:51
Yeah. But, you know, I want to be so bold as to say that, and I might not be making this as explicit for like this future business analysts kind of questions that I've been asking. But but but one of the things that does, I almost feel like, you're saying it in a different way to what everybody else has said it. So other people have talked about, you know, in the future, there's going to be this place where the business analyst is that trusted advisor. And then what I'm hearing you say is, you've reached that point where you're not really doing requirements specs anymore, you are advising business on some of those higher levels, sort of, you know, like a consultant, basically. So then I'm trying to spot well, what's the evidence, then? What what, what is it that Paul's done, or Paul's doing, to be able to reach that point where he has sort of positioned himself in that space? And I mean, I'm, I look at it and go, Well, it's the amount of experience isn't it? It's like, you're not following a book, you're not following a methodology, you're not following a process. All that typical stuff that be business analysis is in organizations, I've actually taken the best bits of that, and I'm applying them independently of the context, it is just like, it doesn't matter what problem I can walk into a room, I can help you solve a problem, no matter what the problem, is that what you feel.

Paul Benn 23:11
That's what I feel. And, you know, I think it's less was the experience and behind me, and the years experience, does have relevance, I don't feel it's, it's, it's the top relevant thing, because I mean, you can, you can get a BA, that's got just as much experience as me, but actually doesn't really know how to use that experience. So I think it's, it comes down to the work that you do, it comes down to connecting with people, it comes down to showing what your value is. And that's why I'm a very big supporter of knowing your value as a BA, knowing what your offer is very important. And it has a lot of like spin offs from that, you know, because when you know your value, you know, what kind of job you're gonna apply for, you can know what kind of culture you want to work in, and all that kind of stuff. But to come back to to, to, to the question about the future business and analysis, I think, I think it's exactly that. I think it's we business analysts are becoming those trusted advisors, those people that have been employed, tried and tested, frameworks, techniques to come up with with an answer. I went, and I am going to use an example for governments. I think it is probably the one area where the heavens used businesses enough. You know, I would like to see either every minister in any government either having had business analyst training or worked as a business or have a business analyst senior business sits right next to them, your system you're talking about have, you know what? You know, and helping them. Think in government. If you just think at some of the solutions that government come up with a marketing way we What were you thinking? What we were talking earlier about a project that I was working on, before we recorded this, you know, and that's that's the thing is that that's where business needs to start. It needs to go up to the very top political people and making policies that will make the policies based on what the understanding of the right problem. And moving down to the, and also coming back to my earlier statement about business business building by influencing decisions, that's where it starts.

Joe Newbert 25:42
Yeah. I'm laughing particularly at your government example, many years ago, I had the fortune to go up to Harare to introduce business analysis to a bunch of guys in Zimbabwe, and that's where I met my dear friends, Samuel zimbio, is now with you. In New Zealand, Ryan Foster, and I went up actually, you mentioned Ryan earlier. But Ryan and I went up and I remember, after the day, the feedback was like the entire room sort of 30 people said, This is amazing. We can use this to change government and fix this country. And I mean, I'm used to hearing feedback like this will be great for processes, or we can fix that returns policy or something. It's such a micro level. But it's wonderful that, you know, we can actually use business analysis to solve some really big sort of structural organizational societal problems, really, it does have that power. I'm going to make a bit of a statement rather than a question here, because I've got another question that I've got in mind for you as well. But But back to your back to your sort of diverse experience. I read a book a couple of years ago by a guy called Franz Johansson called the Medici effect. And it's about innovation. And and just broadly, in that book, he sort of categorizes two kinds of innovation and the world's, you know, calling out for innovation. And so I just want to pick up on this, he talks about progressive innovation and intersectional. Innovation, progression is sort of the obvious one, it's like, there's this and then we can take it to there. And then we can move it up. intersectional is when you take things from different areas, and you bring them together. And I feel like that's what you were saying as well. And when you say you bring all these little bits and pieces from all these different industries, and you're, you're connecting some dots, and there's some dots that other people don't see there, right? It? Do you feel that that gives you a little bit of a step up as well.

Paul Benn 27:53
It is, and it is actually a fundamental be a skill, being able to relate different pieces of information. Yeah, and build new concepts and the ideas of that. And that's exactly what what we want to do at the future is we want to see, Bas developing skills, is being able to take different concepts and different ideas from the past and from other jobs and from from even from other Bas and other industries and say from Robins information together, find the relationships between them, or even the way there's conflict between information because even in conflict, you can find valuable information, why is in conflict? What do I learn from that conflict in a different information? And then you start to build ideas upon the ideas. And that is that is really a fundamental business and a skill. Yeah. It's, and I think it's in general, I'm going to just kind of go back to what you're saying. But when you went to Harare, you seeking their business or system process? Yeah, I think that's that's a big fundamental shift that needs to happen, isn't it analysis is not just about process. It's not just about the finding and modeling and doing a process. It's so much more than that. And I think when again, talking about the future, we need to get away from this idea, oh, we just process motors, we just stopped from drivers or we just defined processes with we have so much more when I just get an example of being able to bring that information together and build new ideas and concepts of it.

Joe Newbert 29:29
Yeah. And I mean similarly batter for ratio in his video. What I loved it in particular, was the the use case itself. And the use case was a business use case. It wasn't like an IT systems analysis use case. It was actually affecting, impacting the business experimenting. It was. I mean, he actually did a little sort of a b test. In that little mock example of a process in production. He touched production he made a decision In production he had, he was that close to the business, that he was influencing it, right, like there. And then. And I thought that was wonderful because that really did actually even in that that elevated the BA role to to like to aspire to so much more I thought

Paul Benn 30:17
I was just saying I also realize we've gone back to the conversation is where's the BS to the business? We're past it. It was, I think it was a it was great that he was kind of sitting or that close to the to the business, but he kind of was independent. In both sides, we always say, don't look at the solution, until you understand the problem. And the same thing you're done with the business. Don't look to it until you you understand because the visible will sway you according to the expectations in the paradigm. And so what it particularly developers, sorry, developers that we dislike you, but there was actually with the way things are possible. What you can do is we can you kind of got to meet the need to look at the problem or the need independently avoid that. And that's I think, what what he did portray quite nicely in that in that video.

Joe Newbert 31:04
Yeah, he did. He did indeed. I'm gonna, I'm just going to drop this one. I'm not even going to try and do any kind of smooth segue here. Paul, I'm just gonna go to some of your answers. Because I can see the time. I'm not saying we're immediately rushed. But I do want to make sure we discussed this before we go dropping the title.

Paul Benn 31:27
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I think I think it's time for us to drop the title business analysis. And the reason why I say that is that it's not really about the title, it's about the skill to bring to the job. And it's about the business skills, not about the role and the talent that you have. And when you drop that title, it means you could slot into various different roles and different places and use your skills. And it kind of just broadens your total horizon. And also your opportunity in the market to be able to work anytime, at any day, you will, I didn't come visit because I wanted to title, I can use that because it fitted my personality of analytical thinking very well. So I go for jobs, that have a lot of that kind of skill set that I can use in it. So I think the titles are starting to restrict us. Because you know, you will see the job, or must have a business address. And it must have this in that way as it's really about the skills and then we can start to go well, we can go work in the marketing department or we can go work in government or we can go working in the call center or whatever. It's not about the role. It's not about the type. It's about what we have to offer the value we have to offer.

Joe Newbert 32:55
Before the show, another thing we talked about was how I've got the easy job. And I'm now going to showcase that I've got the easy job up a bit by playing. Yeah, but curveballs devil's advocate, like asking the hard questions, right. But I want to start off by saying I don't disagree with you. Okay. I don't disagree with you. One. I don't believe that business analysts have a monopoly on business analysis, right? They are a set of skills that are and these people are welcome to have them, right execs perform business analysis, business owners perform business analysis. Politicians like it like it is there. It's ingrained. People don't know they're doing it, right. They don't identify with it. But I'm happy that they do it. Right. And I don't, you know, as I say, we don't have a monopoly. So I agree with you is a mindset, I agree with you as a set of skills, a set of tools and stuff like that, but I just worried like, what or here's potentially what I might see, like, we're going to have a job title. So if we lose this one, like society, organizations are going to give us one, right? Like, you're going to have a job title one way or another. So then that might mean that we lose community. Like if there's no business analyst, job title, then there's no business analyst community because there's nobody to sort of talk about that thing. You then end up joining another sort of community because it'll be the community of the job title that you're in, because there's equivalents of all these communities all over. And also so that's one thing I feel we lose a sense of community. We're gonna have a job title anyway. But the other thing is, if people don't get us when we have got a job title, what hope have we caught if we've got an invisible job title?

Paul Benn 34:59
Engineering co Oh, so I wouldn't expect anything less from your job. So I think I think when I say lose a job title, I don't I don't mean, you know, that we don't have the title of business, I think I think what I'm really referring to is, stop worrying about the job title stop worrying about what are called a business or whether or you know, and chasing after the job title. And, you know, whether you senior lead, whatever, you know, I don't even know, I very seldom even use the word legal CBA because I'm a business consultant. That's it, you know. So I think, and I totally agree with you, you know, if we do lose the words business, we might lose a community, try to agree that slight refining my answer, then saying like, I think it's, yeah, you're right. Let's not use the word business. But let's also not become hung up, that we need to have this title and this in this role, let's rather be we more interested in the skills and values we offer, and then we can start to move into areas that need it.

Joe Newbert 36:20
Yeah. I mean, what will be really cool is like, let's seem to move into another job title. And then you start to do some cool stuff. And people are like, Oh, like that what you do Nago, that's business analysis, you know, like, I'll tell you what I'm doing. But my job titles may be something different. So you start to identify the skill rather than identify the role. I think it'd be fantastic. Because often you see people who are moving into a different lien named job title, go with, what am I going to do as a business analyst? It's like, well, you're not a business analyst, you're moving into a different role. That role probably requires some business analysis skills, which is why you're moving into it. But there's going to be some other stuff too, which is cool, right? More strings to your bow, bit more content experience, bit more context independence, and you start to grow, right?

Paul Benn 37:12
Yeah, exactly. And I've certainly I'm seeing that in my role now. Are we bringing a skill appears? Oh, what's that? Okay, let's use that, you know, I had recently on a project that I have bought in, in, in in a new kind of way of just looking at lessons learned in a retrospective. And, and once it wasn't new to me, and it's not new to the business, it was new to the business, you know, but it certainly kind of, and they've adopted that way of doing lessons learned. So that's an example. I think it's also here, maybe good to mention it, because we're talking about the future business analysis is moving to privatization componentization of your skills. So that's kind of that's the year that I'm moving to Wales and building products around my skills, and offering that to my clients. So it might be a six month gig, or it might just be a five day or it might just be a one day workshop that I use to do give my skills, because then it makes me again, a lot more versatile than I can go in. And they don't have to hire me for a full six months. They can hire me for a day, or they can hire me for a week. But it actually has opened a lot more avenues for revenue for me and for clients being able to have that that product that I can offer

Joe Newbert 38:36
or products. Products. If you're talking about service thinking, aren't you? Sure?

Paul Benn 38:41
Yeah. It is doesn't answer the service with Zoom, you want to talk about the future business. That's I think that's where we need to hit, you know, again, forget about the permanent roles and all that you want to kind of if you really want to kind of move your your, your needle in terms of knowledge in your experience, you've got to you've got to move and you got to continue to move and go forward and not be stuck in one place. And I think that's that's kind of the message that came from that manager to me many, many years ago is like, don't get stuck in one place too long, because you will stagnate.

Joe Newbert 39:16
Yeah, that is so true. You back to typecast stagnate, there's just little growth and things will get frustrating. I think I think just to add on to what you said, you know, I think I think service thinking is great for independence for consultants. I also think it's probably going to be very good for people inside because one of one of the things I've often thought about is that because business analysts are so versatile, right? Because we've got such a broad set of skills. We actually rarely repeat the same service or the same experience maybe for stakeholders. So I often wonder if stakeholders have difficulty in understanding what it is that we do, because actually, we're inconsistent in what we do. Because we've got the ability to do so much, that it's not often that we do the same thing in the same way, twice. So if we can start to bring in some consistency by defining services that we offer, that are perhaps around outcomes and things, you know, like, this is the product that I'm going to give you at the end of this service, that might be a really interesting way to start to define business analysis into the future.

Paul Benn 40:40
Yeah, I mean, and that's certainly the way I've started not defining my practice as a as a consultant BA. So I've, I've started building little products, as service products around cybersecurity, have built a product around outcomes based needs understanding, and so on. So it's, it's really the progression of my product specialist, James, I'm now going back into that specialist role. Again, we have said, these missionaries that I want to work and, and the reason why I'm doing it, because I'm playing to my strengths, and I'm playing to the value that I know that I can offer. I know in in my answers to the podcast, one of the things I said, the world is changing so fast, and we can get caught up in this change, trying to do understand every little piece and gather every little piece. And instead, we we need to kind of sit back and say, Okay, what is interesting to me, what adds value to me, what do I have a passion for and stop building skills around that passion, rather than trying to be a node all of of everything. I get this a lot in in the coaching that I do with aspiring bas. And I had a client recently, and this person was all over the place, grabbing every little course. And that could do it was data. And then the next was lesson was that and we had to pull it back and say like, hold on, what is your strategy? What is it that you want to offer as a business analyst, then the structure, what your knowledge base around that needs to be? And I think that's that's also important to understand is that there's a lot out there. But you got to start finding where your niches?

Joe Newbert 42:33
Yeah, no, I think that's a great point. The scattergun approach isn't going to be something that works here. But I do get it, it's almost an act of desperation, because they're so excited to get into the profession. They figure they're gonna hit something if they've got a broad array of things. So it's funny, it's not as intuitive to think that you need to just pick that that niche, but but you do. But what a great point to end on really like find your passion, find your niche, build yourself up slowly, but towards some kind of goal that you got in place.

Paul Benn 43:10
Also, when we finished a really cheap as I was just getting excited, and

Joe Newbert 43:13
just get warmed up with you, yeah, like, I don't ask you tinies Exactly. But I know it's around 4045 minutes, maybe just over at the moment. So it probably is time to say thank you, Paul, I appreciate you joining me. I wish I could hang with you soon. But since you've moved to the other side of the world, it just makes that kind of thing. A little less often, but maybe one day, get over.

Paul Benn 43:38
I think you should come over for holiday if you haven't been to New Zealand. Now, if not snow, okay, you need to continue doing this. The logic to experience in New Zealand. You know, there's a lot of flow with the land of the hobbits have one of the the the film sets is just on the road for me here. Were some of the Lord of the Rings or shots. Yeah, yeah. We'll we'll probably be trying to do some in person conferences coming up. So yeah.

Joe Newbert 44:15
Okay. love interest. Now bear that in mind. I mean, actually, it seems like every month a really good friend sort of moves that way. So the number of people that are missing is just growing by the day so so yeah, there's a definite chance of that. But thank you, Paul. Nice to see you in our chat some nice and thanks for having me really enjoyed it. Thanks.

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About Paul Benn

Paul Benn (/in/pbennct/) is a self-employed business analyst with over 27 years of experience in business and systems analysis. He is passionate about building skills through coaching, mentoring,  and public speaking, and as the organiser of the Capability Drive conference to mature all-around capably skilled professionals. Paul is also a keen supporter of the business analysis community, doing so through the IIBA

About Joe Newbert

Joe Newbert (/joenewbert) is is a consultant, a writer, a speaker, but above all, a teacher. As Chief Training Officer at Business Change Academy, he delivers some of the best business analysis training on the planet. He co-authored the original IIBAยฎ Business Analysis Competency Model and served as Non-Executive Director on the IIBAยฎ South Africa Strategy Board. Joe is Showrunner at the business analysis podcast network OneSixEight FM and Editor-In-Chief at the Inter-View Report. And he also writes in fits and starts on Newbert's Blog.


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