I was at the driving range this weekend, enjoying the weather and the feel of my 8 iron and it occurred to me that golf is like business analysis (of course if you love golf, it can be a metaphor for just about anything!). Seriously, if you think about the game of golf, the player prepares, practices, studies and trains for a game where he or she never knows what challenges will arise. Every shot is unique, even if you play at the same course over and over. One shot lands in the sand, one in the rough, one on the left of the fairway, and the next one right in the center. And in addition to the landscape challenges, a windy day might change the yardage on a hole, a humid day will prevent the ball from flying as high, and a rainy day will require a firmer grip on the putter so that it doesn’t get away from you.
An experienced golfer approaches every shot just as an experienced BA approaches every requirement: with a set of tools and knowledge about how to use each tool. The golfer makes a decision about which club to use, how hard to hit the ball, which direction to aim; just as a BA makes decisions about which questions to ask, which presentation format to use, how best to confirm the requirements. Sometimes the shot is perfect, hits the green and rolls toward the hole. Sometimes we hit the ground too hard and the ball dribbles a few feet. The experienced golfer assesses what adjustments need to be made and works to improve the next shot. The experienced BA assesses what adjustments need to be made and works to improve the next project.
Great golfers get that way because they practice, practice, practice. Great Business Analysts get that way by using the same approach!