Can Business Analysis get Creative?

Have you ever met a creative Business Analyst? Is it even possible to think creatively in a left brain environment? Let me tell you a short story about embedding creative thinking into a bank’s IT department.

The Brief

Like all banks, this one had a lot of financial products on offer. Its just that some of them were’t working too well. Here’s the process they would normally go through to figure out what was going wrong and what they needed to do to fix it:

process

 

 

Imagine a team of four business analysts working day and night for a couple of months, carefully writing down every conversation they had and piecing the evidence together. Kind of like an archeological dig but less interesting.

The challenge was to find out if there was an alternative approach that could be taken.

Step 1) Mapping out the Problem Space

My gut feel was to mind map all of the different actives that would be happening. This got rid of the sequential aspect of the business analysis process and provided a nice launch pad for exposing some alternatives. It might look something like this:

mindmap

Step 2) Explore some What If’s

Working in a small team, you can do as much or as little as you like. Simply pick an area of interest, take a look at what happens now and note down a selection of “what if” statements. Here are a few from our banking example:

  • Does everyone work separately? What if they could all work together?
  • How can we test or validate issues? What if we dumped the documents and tried it out?
  • What is an acceptable solution? What if we used rough sketches instead of requirements documents?

Step 3) From What If’s to Solutions

Once you have a few good What If challenges, it does’t take long for solutions to start taking shape. Find the right problem to solve, and the solution will take care of itself. Here are a few examples building on “What if they could all work together” :

  • Several teams could compete to solve groups of issues around a given product. Teams would be selected for specialist product knowledge, with the winning team ‘perfecting’ their product first.
  • Test labs could be setup with teams briefed to resolve groups of issues in a test environment.

Summary

Creative thinking doesn’t have to be the domain of brand agencies and artist studios. Creativity can be as simple as questioning what we do, and putting up new ideas for consideration.

 

 

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