Many of you might have started out the summer with a Summer Reading List full of the latest mystery, romance or other top New York Times Best Sellers publications.

However, as August approaches (I know…can you believe it?!), I challenge you to focus the rest of your summer to a new kind of reading list…consider this your Sunsantional Reading List.

This list is a bit different from your former, fiction-driven list. It’s centered around sharpening your skills to be a better business analysis professional, actually any kind of professional for that matter. We all know there are plenty of great books out there covering core business analysis topics (I recommend the book I co-authored, Business Analysis for Dummies), but for this list, I wanted to go outside the typical industry recommendations. You won’t find the words “business analysis” in these book titles, but this list is what I consider must reads if you truly want to excel.

How To Wow
How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Presenting Your Ideas, Persuading Your Audience, and Perfecting Your Image
by: Frances Cole Jones

Start with the art of the one-on-one encounter; add in strategies for interviewing, maximizing meetings and presentations; then finish off with making the most of social interactions. Add this all together and you get How to Wow, a resource to help you succeed in any situation.

This book covers some oldies but goodies, like reminding us that 7% of your impact comes from the words you say, 38% from your tone and 55% from body language. In addition, Jones also packs in a number of invaluable strategies for helping make all meetings and social events successful. I found one technique priceless – writing a diary entry as if it were tomorrow. If you have an important meeting or event coming up, write down details of the event as if it had already happened. This technique helps you think through potential scenarios and prepare for the meeting or event. This is similar to the Field of Dreams mantra, “If you build it, they will come.” If you write it down, it will happen.

Whether you facilitate meetings or just attend them, host lunch meetings or just get invited to lunch, present to large groups or just one person, you’ll find significant value in reading How to Wow.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
by: Patrick Lencioni

It is more apparent now than ever that high performing teams are more successful than those that are not. Most of your work life is being part of a team. When was the last time you sat in your office and worked alone to complete a project from start to finish? Most likely those times are rare and you work as part of a team most often. High performing and highly effective teams have certain traits and characteristics.

In his book, Lencioni outlines the dysfunctions found in teams that hold them back. Those dysfunctions are the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. To be effective you need to trust those you work with so you can have open communication and not avoid healthy conflict (a good debate). With open communication, team members are more likely to be committed and accountable to the results of the team rather than focus on one’s own results, or one’s ego.


You may not be able to change all of your team members over night after reading this book, but the best way to start is with yourself and model great teaming behavior.

Getting Naked
Getting NAKED
by: Patrick Lencioni

Every now and then a book comes along that rocks my world. This was one of those. Most of my writing is about ways to become or stay a desired a BA. If you want to take a leap forward in becoming desired read this book. In Getting NAKED Mr. Lencioni explains an approach that he and his team developed and continue to practice: naked consulting. The approach was designed to ensure client trust and loyalty. In the book, he explains the model around three fears that most of us live with.

  1. Fear of Losing the Business: Worrying about losing a client’s business may cause service providers and consultants to avoid the very things that ultimately engender trust and loyalty.
  2. Fear of Being Embarrassed: Rooted in pride, this fear can lead service providers to withhold their best ideas from clients.
  3. Fear of Feeling Inferior: To avoid feeling irrelevant or being overlooked, consultants try to achieve and preserve a high level of importance in clients’ minds.

By shedding these fears, Lencioni has found that his clients are more trusting of him and his firm, more loyal, and best of all willing to recommend his company to peers at other companies.

Like all of Lencioni’s books, Getting NAKED is a quick read jammed with great content. This book will give you ideas on how to make sure your focus is always on doing what is good for your clients and helping you become a desired BA. As a BA community, we need to continue to improve and the concepts in this book can definitely help, if implemented.

Read This Before Your Next Meeting
Read This Before Our Next Meeting
by: Al Pittampalli

I hold a lot of meetings with clients that are often running from a meeting that just finished and after my meeting they are off to another one. Back to back to back meetings…all day long. Sound familiar? In this book, Al Pittampalli tries his best to stop this insanity.

The book is filled with ideas on how to have more productive meetings. Most importantly, Pittampalli lays out the reason to have a meeting in the first place – a section really connected with me. Pittampalli talks about traditional meetings being a way to delay necessary decisions that need to be made. And, if decisions are not being made then nothing moves forward.


In this book, you will see a redefinition of meeting that can transform how you do business. I know you are always looking for ways to be more efficient with your time and others. So, skip your next traditional meeting and read this book.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
by: Chip Heath and Dan Heath

This is the latest book in my rotation. I haven’t finished it yet, but that’s not stopping me from recommending it. Change is a hot topic these days. In our industry we can be referred to as Change Agents. Even the IIBA’s new version of the BABOK centers around change. All the initiatives you work on are changes. It’s safe to say we all need to learn more about change.


In their book, Chip and Dan Heath break things down to a level that will help you understand what everyone goes through during change and how to help them. One of the surprises about change, as they call them, is what looks like resistance to change is often a lack of clarity. Most likely, you’ve been on those projects where it just feels so unorganized that everyone is running in circles and no one is actually buying into the change. It’s not necessarily the fact that everyone is resistant to change. Maybe helping the team get clarity on what needs to change and how to get there is the answer.

I have found this book to be loaded with invaluable reminders and new nuggets. I know you will too. Whether your title includes “change” in it or not you need to help others with all the change around them. So put down your current book (unless it is one I recommended above) and switch to Switch.

I’d love to hear what you think of these books and how you are implementing the concepts. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy reading,

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