Should You Really Work on Your Weaknesses?

Traditional thinking leads us to focus our training and development activities purely around perceived weaknesses.  Whilst it is inevitably important to ensure that critical weaknesses are addressed, there are massive opportunities for us to further develop our strengths so that we “shine” and stand out from the crowd.

With this in mind, I’m going to try an experiment and build my development plan differently this year.  Interested?  I’ll explain further below!

What if we focus on what we enjoy, as well as what we are good at?

If you’re anything like me, there will be a significant part of the BA role that you absolutely love and gets you out of bed in the morning.  However, the BA role is so broad that there are bound to be some parts that you like less. Considering what we enjoy, as well as what we’re good at, provides a new lens with which to view and plan our personal development activities.

In fact, we could categorise how we feel about each BA skill, knowledge area or development activity by considering the two dimensions of competency level and enjoyment. This allows us to categorise each item and can help us decide where to focus our attention.   This is illustrated below:

4 box grid : A personal development model : Enjoyment vs competence

A personal development model : Don’t just focus on weaknesses!

The stars: Your key differentiators – skills and activities that you’re good at and enjoy:

1. There will be some business analysis skills and competencies that you really excel at and you love.  These are your competitive advantage. Choose development carefully, as you may well be an expert already.  Consider whether the best way to develop would be to teach or coach others. These skills represent your competitive advantage and mark you out from your peers.  Use them often!

2. There will be some areas of the BA role that you are pretty good at and enjoy.  These are areas to consider developing. Nurture them, learn and experiment. They represent significant opportunities for personal growth and development, and more importantly you’ll enjoy using the skills.

3. It’s likely that they’ll be some areas that you’re reasonably good at and enjoy to some extent.  Prioritize and sort these; there might be some “quick wins” whereas others might be important only in the longer term.

The necessary treadmill: Activities, skills and competencies you’re good at but don’t enjoy:

4. These activities feel like hard work.  You can perform them perfectly adequately, but you just don’t enjoy them. Ask yourself are you good enough already.  If you are, then this almost certainly isn’t an area you need to develop except if you feel that developing these skills would help you find enjoyment in them.

The monkeys on your back: Activities and skills you’re not good at AND don’t enjoy:

5. Skills that you’re not good at AND don’t enjoy probably feel like a monkey on your back, weighing you down.   If these skills are important to your role, then you’ll need to develop them to an adequate level even though you don’t enjoy them.  However, ask yourself whether you can re-frame the problem and develop the skills in a different way. Is there anything you can do to make them enjoyable?  For example, if you hate data modelling, would learning a new notation from scratch help? Or would learning more and trying out the skills in a different project make them more enjoyable? If so, this could be a development area. If not, it would be better to focus your attention elsewhere.

The enigma: Things you enjoy but aren’t good at:

6. This is an area that needs some soul searching.  If you feel that you have the capability to develop the skills and they’re relevant to your current or future aspired role, then these are great opportunities for development.  However, make sure you’re realistic over the applicability of the skills.

It’s important to have a balance of skills, and to have a working knowledge of all the relevant BA competencies, as well as to understand how this links to your long-term goals.  However, hopefully this article has given you some new ideas on how you might approach your development.

>>Read More About Improving Your BA Skills

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  1. Anonymous says

    Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for the article. I especially like the graphic.

    PS: Would the term “run” need to be third person singular to reflect the word “team” (currently: “team that run”; expected: “team that runs”)?

    Here’s the original: “He is a director of the UK Chapter of the IIBA, and a member of the team that run (a site providing a free BA toolkit including templates).”

    • Hi, glad you liked the article. Thanks for pointing out the slight typo — it’s so easy for these to creep in! This is now corrected. I trust it didn’t spoil your enjoyment of the article 🙂 All the best, Adrian.

  2. A very reasonable article, Adrian. Thank you for the inspiration! I would also suggest to complement it with the sample list of skills and activities BA-related, which readers could classify into these 4 areas, because sometimes it’s not easy to quickly recall your strengths and weaknesses.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Ramanaidu, Katie, Jonathan and William.

    I’m really glad you enjoyed the article!

    All the best, Adrian.

  4. William Broens says

    Great article, PD 101. Your figurative aproach to what we often take for granted is a bonus, and a copy of your diagram will invariably end up posted in my office. To often we forget, or are unable to express, what we are so very good at and why our team or organization is better with us as part of it. Making our best better, understanding the future, and knowing why and how we need to be better will only create stronger relationships.

  5. What a great breakdown! I think we are all tempted to work on those things that we are already good at. These categories encourage us to to follow path developing all four quadrants. In business and in life, a key word for all endeavors is balance. You can’t be successful putting all of your eggs in one basket.

  6. Katie Metcalfe says

    Thanks Adrian. Good ideas to think about when reviewing skills. I like the illustration grid you have created. Very helpful.

  7. Hi Adrian,

    I love this article. This article resembles my new year resolution which I have taken i.e. I will only focus on which I enjoy the most and not good enough and try my best to get a grip on them. Once again I really appreciate your article.

    Thanks & Regards
    Ramanaidu Yegi

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