I picked up the habit of skipping introductions in college. Most often college-edition novels and philosophical works, of which I read plenty, contained the editor’s reaction to the text. It never made sense to me to read this before I had even read the book itself!
So it’s no surprise that I’ve bypassed a good deep reading of the preface and introduction to the BABOK until preparing for the exam. What a mistake I had made! There’s some good stuff in there! Here are a few of my favorite passages:
IIBA encourages all practitioners of business analysis to be open to new approaches and new ideas, and wishes to encourage innovation in the practice of business analysis (2) .
Sometimes the BABOK can feel like a self-contained world in which everything we do as business analysts must have a spot. But when you begin to look at the content with this perspective, it’s more about a framework for bringing new ideas into the profession. I still think that we BAs have a lot to learn from UX professionals (and vice versa). And when you read the list of sources of information that follows the introduction, you get the feeling that business analysis is more about inclusion and trying new approaches, than following a rigid methodology or process. Nice. This is my kind of BA.
The BABOK Guide contains a description of generally accepted practices in the field of business analysis. …. In addition, practices which are not generally accepted by the business analysis community at the time of publication may be equally effective, than the practices described in the BABOK Guide (3).
As Kym Byron, my instructor for BA Mentor’s Exam Prep Class, so nicely noted, this is what separates the BABOK from other BA texts. It’s not one person’s opinion on how to do BA. It’s not an example of a methodology that has worked in a certain set of circumstances. It represents a collection of tasks and techniques that have been validated by a large number of business analysis professionals in their active work.
As such, the BABOK is an “as is” document, not a “to be” or, definitely a “should be.” Although many take it that way and look to the BABOK as a methodology. This is an important constraint to keep in mind when we consider the value of certification against the knowledge in the BABOK as well as consider how we use the BABOK in our work. Assimilating the BABOK is more about becoming connected with business analysis as it’s done today, flaws and all. For individuals or organizations looking for a baseline to measure themselves against, the BABOK would provide that framework. For organizations and individuals looking to become best in class, this might mean leveraging the BABOK framework but looking beyond it for practices and approaches. At least that’s how I understand the implications of this passage.
Finally, my absolute favorite.
Similarly, we do not assume that requirements are analyzed at any particular level of detail, other than to say that they should be assessed to whatever level of depth is necessary for understanding and action (5).
Get out the yellow highlighters and pink stickers! Or, you might be re-reading the above sentence and wondering what the heck I’m so excited about. Well, I feel like a bit of my own BA Manifesto is validated (even if it’s publication does post-date the publication of the BABOK 2.0) with the focus here on understanding (what I called alignment) and action (what I called positive change).
I also feel validated in the natural tension I feel on so many projects where I try to balance clarity and ambiguity and decide when “enough is enough.” Here’s our professional body of literature telling us that this tension is justified, because our work is not just to document the requirements, but to assess the requirements at the right level of detail to keep the project moving and ensure everyone understands the implications of those requirements.
Hmm…perhaps I should re-evaluate my “skip the introduction” philosophy. I wonder what else I’m missing?
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