business

The three things a Business Analyst should think about during meetings

Table of Contents1 - The three concerns of the business analyst2 - “Um, but I just write software requirements ...”3 - “But I don’t do database design or prototypes ...”4 - “But what about ...”5 - A fourth element

When it comes to working as a business analyst, I’ve learned that there are just three things you need to keep in your mind when meeting with your customers (the project sponsor (gold owner) and domain experts (“goal donors”)) to gather requirements. These three thoughts will keep your meeting on track, lead you to the next question, and will help you know when your work is done.

“Every person in your company is a vector”

“Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors.”

That’s a quote from Elon Musk. In this context a vector is what I know about from my engineering background, a company of both a speed and a direction, something like this:

case class Vector(speed: Double, direction: String)

The correct thing about that quote is that the worst employees I ever had pulled in a direction that was somewhere around 180 degrees opposite of the direction we were aiming for. For example, if nine out of ten employees are rowing a boat that’s headed east, an employee that’s rowing towards the west is going to slow everyone else down.

Unfortunately I never had much success turning those people around, so they were always fired or encouraged to find other work. Over the years we had everything from people whose work had to be completely re-done to people who had agendas during the 8-5 work hours that had nothing to do with the company’s agenda.

The Parable of the Carpenter

Way back in 2005 I read an SI.com article about football coach Dick Vermeil, and the article mentioned a story called, The Parable of the Carpenter. I’ve never found an official version of the story, but here’s a version I cobbled together from multiple sources, including that SI article:

Google’s Oprah Winfrey Rule alvin March 5, 2018 - 8:21pm

There is a mistake technical and scientific people make. We think that if we have made a clever and thoughtful argument, based on data and smart analysis, then people will change their minds. This isn’t true. If you want to change people’s behavior you need to touch their hearts, not just win the argument. We call this the Oprah Winfrey Rule. (It’s also the way good politicians operate, but Oprah does it better than anyone.)

~ Google’s Oprah Winfrey Rule, from the book, How Google Works

If you want to understand business financial statements, here’s a book recommendation

If you’re into understanding business financial statements and/or interested in investing, I’ve been reading Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements for the last week or so, and I can confirm that it’s a good book for non-experts like me. With just a few exceptions, all of the terms you’ll encounter on income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements are explained simply and easily.

“How Google Works” is a good read for entrepreneurs alvin February 19, 2018 - 11:12pm

I’m only about fifty pages into the book, How Google Works, but I can already say that if you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, it’s a valuable read. At first I thought the authors were patting themselves on the back a lot (which admittedly they deserve), but as I continued reading they clearly say things like “We’re not that smart,” “We screwed up,” and “Learning from our mistakes, this is why we created Alphabet.”

Some of their ideas, such as building businesses around their smartest people and greatest assets are things that I did in the past, but couldn’t articulate. Maybe it had to do with being in Kentucky at the time, but I always thought of it as “Get out of the way and let the thoroughbreds run.”