What Happened to the 50 BAs Initiative?

A few of you have been asking, what happened to the 50 BAs initiative? I say “good question!” After some early momentum and quick wins, this project got stuck in the Dip. This post has been a long time coming as I’ve been reflecting on how to honor this community, honor myself and my goal, and especially honor all of those who have graciously shared their stories on our Registry.

In this post, I’ll share what I learned from this project, why it hasn’t turned out as I expected, and what I’m going to do next.

What I’ve Learned

There was no clear vision of success. I’ve long said that “I want to become a BA” is too vague of a career goal and that it’s extremely important to create a clear and specific intention. But when I defined the measurable result of the 50 BAs project, I left the goal vague – 50 new business analysts. You might be thinking, that doesn’t really sound vague at all. But here are some of the objections I’ve encountered as I encouraged professionals to add their stories to our Registry:

  • Well, I started my new business analyst position, but I’m not really confident yet. Let’s see how it goes and then maybe I’ll be ready to say I’ve succeeded.
  • I’ve gone through my career history and realized I am a BA. Who would have knew! But I’m unemployed. Let’s wait until I get a job.
  • I do some business analysis but I don’t have the business analyst job title. Am I really a BA? I’m not so sure.

In many ways these are the words of successful professionals – professionals who those of us within the profession would consider to be business analysts. But they did not yet see themselves that way – yet.

On the flip side are those that have long seen themselves as a business analyst who we’ve helped solidify and expand their roles or find new positions, but not actually get started in the profession. Again, it wasn’t clear if the Registry applied to them.

Part of the story is that the career journey we are all on is a long and unending one. There is no “done” in your business analysis career. You are only done when you retire, and maybe not even then. (Can you see yourself coaching someone on how to improve their process from your easy chair? I certainly can!)

But there are milestones to reach, big and small, and successes to celebrate. Going forward I’ll be looking for ways to help those who joins the Bridging the Gap community to embrace their successes.

A career transition takes an average of 3 years.  I actually knew that career transitions can take a long time (as put forward by 13-year Harvard Business School faculty member Professor Herminia Ibbar in this instructional video), but I didn’t think through how it would impact this project. Many of the efforts we invested into this year have helped professionals grow in their current roles now so they will see their ultimate success in 2013 and beyond. That’s work that matters and I’m proud of it.

I’ve realized that you aren’t going to become a BA on my timeline or to help me achieve my goal. This career journey is yours and yours alone. I’m merely a supporter on your path, as fast or as slow as that may be.

Your story matters. The activity of sharing stories, especially career transition stories, is very helpful to people. It brings what we do here full circle. And it’s one way you can celebrate your success.

Why Didn’t The Idea Work?

As I see it, the problem wasn’t that we weren’t helping people do business analysis and make forward progress. The problem was that even though we helped people do these things, we didn’t necessarily help them in such a way that they were ready to declare themselves to the world as business analysts.

The symptom is that we have 11 people on our Registry instead of 50. The cause is that I didn’t lay out a clear vision of success. Well, at least that’s my analysis of the problem. If you see any other possibilities, please leave a comment below.

What’s Next

As I’ve been thinking about this project, the problems with it, and how to solve them, I’ve decided a very first step will be to create a Roadmap. Before the end of the year, I’ll be publishing a process model showing you how to get where you want to go in your BA career. It will compile together what I’ve learned from everyone who has commented, emailed me, or participated in one of our virtual courses in the last 4 years.

And like any good process model it will be full of decision points, alternate flows, and a clear definition of success.  Whether you are currently employed with the BA job title, unemployed but with the experience, or recently employed as a new business analyst looking to solidify your career in business analysis, the roadmap will give you a way to identify where you are at and what you can be doing to move forward.

I’ll also officially closing the 50 BAs project. Later this week, our Registry will updated to reflect this. I’m a firm believer in cutting things that aren’t working so that you can free your time and energy to work on the things that matter. And it’s clear that you can’t achieve a goal that was ambiguous in the first place.

Since one of the gems from the 50 BAs project was the career transition stories we were able to publish, I’ll be finding a place to continue to share those stories and accepting new ones too. Your story matters. If you have one element of success (however you choose to define it) that you’d like to share with the world, I’d be honored to help you inspire others following in your footsteps.

And rest assured that I’m not leaving behind the big goal which is to help as many professionals as possible find fulfilling and financially rewarding careers in business analysis. I’m only leaving behind a tactic that is not serving that mission.

Thank you for your patience as I discover the best possible ways to serve you along your business analysis career journeys. And thank you for being part of what we do here at Bridging the Gap.

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  1. Rob nailed it! Exactly!

  2. To follow up on Jake’s comment–
    Is there a place on here where we can provide updates to our individual stories? I know my path to becoming a Business Analyst may take at least 2-3 years.
    I’d like to continue my updates because I feel a special affinity for Laura’ and her community ever since I first purchased her book, How to Start a BA Career.

    • Hi Rob,
      What a great idea. Thank you so much for suggesting it and being willing to share your story AND for your positive feedback. I think we could start with a blog post – and you could update the original post with ongoing updates or we could publish new posts as we see fit. I’ll be in touch directly.

  3. Jake Calabrese says

    A few ideas that occurred to me while reading the article and comments…
    – BA Career Success Stories – Could be realizing what you do, transitioning, or anything related to success in the area…
    – BA Goals – Having people bravely outline their measurable goals (as Rob did) – then update those goals as they learn and/or achieve them… Emphasizing that as you move forward and learn, your goals – or the specifics of them may change… This would be an interesting story telling process…
    – Jake

    • Jake,
      I agree with your idea 100% on success stories – they can be for any milestone along your journey to BA. This is something I’ll be working on helping people share. (At least one is in the queue for publication already.)

      I like the idea about BA goals. And you are right, this takes a lot of courage and flexibility as you get feedback and uncover opportunities or hit new roadblocks and incorporate appropriate adjustments into your plan. Not sure quite what to do with this idea yet, but I’ll add it to the incubator!

  4. Laura, this is an excellent review, one that I find many organizations and teams shy away from when they don’t meet their goals. To be so open an honest about what didn’t work and what you can learn from it is an extremely admirable trait and will only set you up for bigger and better successes in the future.

  5. Hi Laura,
    first of all – thank you for the great work you’re doing. Bridging the Gap was an eye-opener for me, and has helped me pursue my career aspiration.
    While reading this post it again crossed my mind that BA is not just a profession, it’s a way of thinking. And you again give us a valuable real-life example how to approach things, that don’t behave as expected, how to find root cause, learn lessons and thus enhance one’s BA competency. Respect! and again – big thank you!

    • Stasy,
      Thank you so, so much. You are right that BA is a way of thinking or a mindset and also that this very post was an act of business analysis. Getting so caught up in my own emotions here, I completely overlooked that! (But it goes to share that you can’t take the “BA” out of the business analyst, so to speak. Thank you for pointing it out!

  6. Hey Laura–
    I took your introductory e-mail course and took part in one of your webinars last January. I queried you about making the transition from being a desktop support analyst to a BA. Unfortunately, for the first half of 2012 I was unemployed so my BA goals got pushed to the side as I was more concerned with just obtaining employment. I’m working as a contractor with the Federal Reserve and I think this could be a great opportunity to grow my career.
    Due to my unemployment, however, in 2012 I was unable to take any of my classes for completing my Bachelor’s in Information Systems (only 3 classes left).
    One path I think might be good for me is to study ITIL and I’m preparing myself for the Foundations certification. This would at least help me make the transition from IT support technician to IT Service Management, a bit more in line to some of the transferable skills to a BA role.
    So my goals for now are as follows…
    December 2012–Prepare and pass the ITIL 2011 certification
    January 2013– Resume taking classes towards by my bachelor’s. (I’ll probably have to take 1 class each in Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters)
    Winter/Spring 2013–Prepare for and pass the PMI CAPM exam
    Summer/Fall 2013–Take your Busines Process Modeling course
    December 2013–Finally graduate with my Bachelor’s!

    • Hi Rob,
      It certainly sounds like you are working your plan and making consistent forward progress. You will learn a lot about process and process improvement from ITIL and there will be many concepts you can apply to BA.

  7. Disha Trivedi says

    The fact that you paused to reflect, analyze and change directions itself shows the sincerity of your commitment to benefit the BA community. I think we are all very lucky to have you! Thanks for all that you do.

    • Disha,
      Thank you so much for your support. Your words mean a lot to me. This was definitely a difficult decision but the right one. It’s hard to admit to the world that you failed to achieve a goal you set for yourself. But it’s also freeing since now I can move on with a clear conscience!
      All my best,

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