You Are Not a Magician (Or Maybe You Are)

I still remember seeing my first magic show. I was in fifth grade. We all sat in what was usually our lunch room, lined up by class, while this mysterious person performed on what seemed like a very big stage in front of us.

magic-hatIt should have been exciting, but it wasn’t.

I couldn’t stop thinking and analyzing and trying to figure it all out. I knew that the rabbit existed somewhere in time and space before it got pulled out of the hat. Rather than get caught up in the mystery, I wanted to understand the how the tricks worked.

I left puzzled and slightly entertained, but not awed. I was an analyst even way back in the fifth grade, even if not yet a business  analyst.

Business Analysts Have Tricks Too

There is a similar line between getting caught up in the magic and knowing the tricks when it comes to business analysis. When we do our job with skill, we accomplish what seems inexplicable. If you are new to the profession, it may even seem like more senior analysts are magicians because they apparently come up with spontaneous solutions to problems or insightful questions that lead to unexpected requirements.

But just like a magician’s tricks give the illusion of mystery to an audience, business analysis has its own set of tricks, called techniques, that help us solve problems.

From the outside looking in, business analysis looks a little mysterious. From the inside looking out, business analysis is mostly a matter of applying logic and structure to a problem and seeking out answers in whatever way we can. Techniques provide the structure that generate questions, ideas, and insights.

Tricks (or Techniques) Make Us Magicians

Let’s look at a specific example. One of our course participants asked how I knew what to put in the database field name column of the sample data dictionary I presented. He expressed a valid concern that as a business analyst I wouldn’t (magically) know what to put in that column.

He was absolutely right. I didn’t know what to put in this field…until I asked the developer. (That’s how data modeling fits into the business analysis process). The result I achieved was simply a matter of applying data modeling techniques, along with business analysis competencies like asking questions, to a tricky project challenge.

Having the right tools in your toolbox (or tricks up your sleeve) can help you seek out information you might otherwise gloss over, or evaluate a problem in a new way. And this can make you look like you spontaneously pulled a rabbit out of a hat.

To your stakeholders, you are a magician.

Learn More About Data Modeling

Just like the magician learns tricks from other magicians, business analysis techniques are completely learnable too. In fact, we’ve got a lot to teach you about data modeling techniques here.

This article is the 6th installment of a 10-article series on getting started with data modeling, where we are covering the most frequently asked questions business analysts have about applying data modeling techniques.

Click here to check out the rest of the articles

And also be sure to check out Data Modeling for Business Analysts, a virtual course where you’ll learn a structured approach for incorporating data modeling into your software development projects, even if you don’t have technical skills.

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