Since this was the last episode of 2015, Kupe and I focused on observations from 2015 and what we think will be big for business analysts in 2016. In our next session, we will be talking about the business analyst career path and how you can set yourself up for success in 2016. Stay tuned for our recording of that session.

Episode 2 | December 22, 2015 Businesss Analysis Podcast Transcript

Jacqueline: Hello. Good afternoon. This is Jaqueline Sanders-Blackman with Technology Expresso Radio. I want to welcome everyone. Excited to be here on our second episode of our new series featuring Kupe from B2T Training. Hello Kupe!

Kupe: Hello Jacqueline. Great to be back!

Jacqueline: Awesome. As Kupe and I prep for each show, we get into these great conversations. We always have a lot to share with our audience, and I’m excited from our last episode. I see some familiar names and numbers joining us on the line. Glad you could join us for this new episode. We’re trying a new time today, during your lunch hour because so many people have given feedback stating they hated that they missed the live show last time. We’re adjusting and working out the kinks. I’m so excited to have the series, to have Kupe, and to have all of you join us. We are setting up and opening up the mics. We want to find out what you want to talk about.

We welcome our various listeners including those in the business analyst community, our business analysts on Twitter, business consultant community, and many of my business coaches throughout Atlanta, including the founder of the PinkEntrepeneur PinkTECH Network Felicia Philips (The Pink Mogul).

An additional shout out to Shan Thomas, who is the creator of the Technology Expresso mobile app that you need to check out. I also must acknowledge: David Blackman is with us today, and I’d like to say hello to Jovan Grant. If you would like to talk on today’s show, press 1 on your phone-pad. Jovan check-in with you and put you in the queue to ask Kupe or I a question or to make a comment on anything we say this week or have said last week. Thank you Jovan for all your help. I also want to say hello to Anisah Muhammad, who, thanks to her, we keep our Social Media fresh, our Twitter postings, our Instagram, our WordPress. You can get a recap or listen in to our first episode we had with Kupe. That’s just a few of my shout outs to acknowledge our podcast team. Kupe, let me give you a chance. Is there anyone you want to shout out to?

Kupe: Yeah. I just want to say this is so cool.  We don’t have to be worried here; we have a serious crew working, and Technology Expresso Radio is going to take off. This is awesome. As far as shout outs, I want to thank Kaley Abernathy, our marketing director. She has helped a lot behind-the-scenes. Another shout out goes to Blair Loveday, who works for our partner, Redvespa, in New Zealand. He and I were on a big tour talking about design thinking and critical thinking this past fall. We had a good talk yesterday. I’m sure that some of the things Blair and I talked about yesterday will make its way into today’s show. It’s great to be here. Thank you.

Jacqueline: Excellent. One more thing for our listeners and followers: You can follow us on Twitter, and our hashtag today is #BizTechLiveChat. If you have a question or comment, we’ll either respond to it during the show or we’ll catch up with you after the show. If you want to also stay in touch with Kupe, he’s on Twitter: @Kupe. He goes by one name; that’s how big he is in the industry. You know you’ve made it when you can just go “Kupe” and everybody knows your name.

Kupe: I grew up loving Madonna, so one day I would be somewhat like Madonna.

Jacqueline: You couldn’t take on her hairstyle, so you went for the one-name thing. Understandable.

Kupe: Nobody’s going to be wearing clothes like me either.

Jacqueline: Right. You can follow me on Twitter as well: @RequirementsPro. It’s toward the end of the year, and we want our listeners to know that we’re going to continue this next year. The show will be scheduled every other Tuesday at noon. Continue to follow us for tech reminders of any shows, updates, or changes throughout the year. You will be able to chat and continue this conversation. That’s all of our administrative stuff, so we’re ready to jump in.

Let me start off on our topic today. It’s the end of the year, so we want to talk about some of your observations. Kupe, I’ll let you start off, and also, what do you think is going to be hot? What is important for business analysts to be aware of and on top of? Both Technology Expresso and B2T, we always talk about continuing education. It never stops in business and technology but what are some of your observations for the end of the year and going into the new year, Kupe?

Kupe: There are three main things that I’ve been thinking about over the last month in the space that we play in:

  1. Agile is obviously a big thing. I think more companies are diving into agile principles and agile methodologies and are working to get the agile mindset, the way teams are formed, and they’re using coaching to help their teams. How teams are now using coaching is changing— it started happening towards the end of 2015 and is going to take off in 2016 — realizing they need more than just a coach; they need a coaching team. The analogy I like to use is a sports analogy. If you’re familiar with American football, you have your head coach, and you have your specialty coaches: the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and so on. Teams in the agile space have used agile head coaches. They set up the team, get the team together, and have overall philosophies of how teams are going to work, but now companies are realizing that all the coaches don’t necessarily have deep-depth in certain areas, like product ownership/analysis, testing and even on the technical side. I think teams are going to start to reach out and look for those specialty coaches and look for a deeper dive in analysis and so on. That’s the next wave in the agile space, where specialty coaches are going to start popping up. The analysis coach can be like the offensive coordinator, the testing the defensive coordinator, the technology the special teams coaches, and etcetera.
  1. We talked a little bit about this on the last call. The soft skills are finally starting to get some love. For so long in so many different industries, especially in the analysis industry, the technical skills — workflow diagrams, the different techniques that people need to be on the job — I’m starting to hear more and more people realize that they need to focus more on, get more training on, and get more knowledge of the softer type of skills. I don’t know if a lot of the callers know, but I’m a trained improv actor. A lot of what I like to talk about is how to use improv skills to be a better collaborator, a better team player, and a better communicator. More non-improv people out there are starting to talk about using improv skills on their team. That, to me, is a sign that the softer skills are getting more play. In addition, in September I went to a conference, and one of the Gartner analysts listed five skills. I can’t remember all of them, but one I know for sure was the knowledge worker of today is going to have to be focused on user research. He further said that we have to be better anthropologists, sociologists, and business psychologists to work with all the people that we deal with day in and day out. Being an anthropologist is understanding the culture of your customer base, not just who they are or their persona, but going deeper into the culture and the whole area of the people that we deal with. I think specifically in the analysis space, you have to have that user research mentality because you’re dealing with people day in and day out.
  1. I said this on our pre-show call. I really think design thinking is the new agile. Similar to the show “Orange is the New Black,” design thinking is the new agile. Agile has been the focus for many companies over the years, and it has been a hot topic. However, it’s going to lose its hot spot to design thinking. I keep seeing more and more companies putting in place design-type organizations or design departments. The same analyst who talked about user research did a talk on design thinking at this conference and actually said that if you’re sending your son or daughter to college, have them get a design degree. If you’re looking toward where the future jobs are, design is an area to look at. The beauty of that, I think, is if you look at the techniques and the skills of designers, and I’m not necessarily talking about UX designers, but that pre-project where you define ideas and come up with programs and projects. The skills that are used there are very similar to ones that people have been using in the analysis community.

There’s more to learn and you may have to adapt your skills a little, but it’s not a huge leap. Those are the top three for 2016.

Jacqueline: Awesome. I’m going to play the BA here and dissect what you listed, because they’re all excellent topics. Let’s start with agile. I like to give our different audiences a little background and perspective. In my perspective, I first got introduced to agile about 8 years ago, around the time I got introduced to B2T. Early on, I realized there was a big A Agile and a small a agile. One of the disclaimers: Agile is not a methodology. Either way, it’s a combination of a mindset and framework. It’s almost like a culture change especially for the environments that have the traditional waterfall methodology. I love your analogy about the coaching and about the different types of coaches that you need, because with Agile you’re not just going to a new methodology. When people talk about a methodology, you think and hear about a defined roadmap, that defines the dos and don’ts, the standard operating procedures, and the templates. Agile has a lot of flexibility around its framework and how you apply the various rituals, and with that, there’s a lot of different ways to get in trouble with how you apply the various combination of agile techniques.  If you don’t understand what the intentions of some of the different techniques are and what combinations work best together. A lot goes into making Agile fit different projects in different environments, and it’s much different from a cookie cutter methodology.

I can see why you said the coaching is needed. I’m excited about that, because some people want to take an agile class. They want to get a scrum master’s certificate, and after they get the paper, then they think they’re ready for the world. Agile will sometimes throw you a few curveballs. Agile itself, which as you know is near and dear to my heart, incorporates continuous process improvement. What really kind of scares me is when people say something like, “We went agile last year.” They talk about the different challenges they were having, and I ask, “Do you go over this in your retrospect?” then they go, “We don’t do that.” I’m like, “Agile is not turn-key.” How you transition to it and how you continue that process improvement and look for the different cues to adjust — this is where I think the whole coaching concept can really reinforce the continuous improvement aspect.

Kupe: You and I have talked about this, and I think you’re actually working on a presentation around it. People say in the community “we’re waterfall,” “we’re agile,” “we’re a hybrid.” In my opinion, they’re viewing agile as a one-size fits all. Either you’re doing scrum or you’re not, and that means either you’re agile or you’re not agile. More companies are agile in the sense of a mindset when they talk about they’re doing a hybrid of stuff, and to me, that’s what agile is. It’s picking the best pieces that make sense for your team and where you’re at to be most effective, to be able to try different things, and to quickly learn that if something’s not working, change it. Don’t do it just because it says it’s in the process. I’ve talked to some teams that claim “We are full-on agile,” and they don’t have daily stand-ups. Some people would say, “If you don’t do a daily stand-up, you’re not agile.” No. They don’t need it for their size team and how they communicate. They’re constantly communicating, so they don’t need to do a stand-up every day. To your point, Kent McDonald, someone we work with, always says, “This is just what we do. It’s not agile vs. waterfall. It’s just a new way that teams operate together.” It’s about asking the questions, “How should our team form and do things the best way we can?” It’s about pulling from multiple resources to determine how to move forward.

Jacqueline: Right. I think one of the primary measurements of agile, in the end, is just a well-performing team. Whether you’re improving communications and being interactive or you’re self-governing, it is all for the sake of becoming a high-performing TEAM, that is the key. I was just talking with a group, and some of them had been doing agile for 6-8 years. One of the things we did when kicking off our time together is going over the agile manifesto. You can just see in the room that they were thinking, “We kind of got away from this…we forgot about this…” The agile manifesto is very simplistic, and I said, “It would be great, in 2016, to sit down with your teams and spend a little bit of time with the agile manifesto.” Revisit what was really the essence, the spirit, of it. That can be very powerful in renewing teams, and it can be a great beginning of the year reset. That was my recommendation to them.

Kupe: That’s great.

Jacqueline: Let me share with our audience as more listeners are jumping in. Thank you for spending your lunch hour and afternoon with us. Welcome everyone. We’re talking with Kupe of B2T Training. We’re talking about a range of things. He has given us his top three list of things that we think are hot as we wind down 2015 and go into 2016. I’m dissecting them. The first one we talked about is agile. We’re going to also talk about design thinking and about the new appreciation of soft skills. I can’t wait to get to those. Let me ask you one thing, Kupe, before I jump off of agile. A student actually asked this, and I had my thoughts on it, but I’d be very interested in yours and even our audience if they have thoughts. The question was, we know the Scrum Master role, one of the ways I like to explain it is the guardian of the team. The scrum master empowers the team and acts as a coach. The student in my class asked, coming from a traditional environment, waterfall where you have project management going into agile: Can PM’s make good Scrum Masters? And also Can BA’s make good Scrum Masters? That was the question, and I’m curious about your thoughts.

Kupe: Yeah. I think all of the above. I have worked on teams where our tech lead was the best person to lead the team. It’s really an approach that people take. If they’re taking the collaborative approach, then I think it makes sense. If they’re leaving it up to the team to help make decisions, then it could be anybody. If you have project managers — and I’m going to pick on project managers just because they’re the ones that typically fall into this role — but if you are more of a command and control type project manager, it might be really difficult for you to take on the Scrum Master role. The goal is not to direct people and tell them what to do, but it’s to help the team move forward and get rid of roadblocks. A lot of project managers, BAs, and tech leads, are agile, that’s how they approach projects anyway. To me, if you’re a project manager that isn’t the overall command-control type PM, then you’re probably the perfect person to be a Scrum Master because you have probably acted that way in the past.

When I was a PM for projects, and I wrote a blog years ago about my first agile project. It was prior to the agile manifesto coming out. Our approach wasn’t agile in the sense that you hear today. The way I approached the project: we were clear on our objectives and the goals of the initiative. Then, we listed out how we are going to get this thing done. All titles were left at the door, and we came together as a team and decided: these are the tasks that have to be done, so who’s the best person to do each one? We were meeting every other day on a weekly basis depending on where we were and what we needed to do. I think there’s a lot of PM’s out there that are acting in this fashion to begin with, so it’s a perfect spot for them. It’s more than attitude. It’s about how you like to lead projects and your role on projects. If you’re more command and control or you’re expecting command and control from somebody, then you’ll struggle.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. Excellent response, and I like your point. I will say, I thought a statement that came from a student in my class also was good. One of the things they said was that what they found in their environment that was going through a transition was that they were sending people to scrum training, but the organization when they returned was still operating in the tradition of project management and therefore they still rewarded and recognition PM type behaviors. You’re absolutely right, especially if that environment had a command and control. It’s not that the people weren’t or didn’t realize that there was a difference between PM and Scrum Masters, but the environment you return to — we see this a lot — when you go to training and come back, you need an environment that is conducive for you to apply some of these new concepts.

Kupe: Great point. If I had an extra few hours a week, I would try to spend time on this. I think, and hopefully it’s starting to happen more, but I think the HR community needs a better understanding of how agile teams operate. I think the way people get rewarded is the key to agile. If you’re still rewarding people on individual tasks and completions, it’s going to hurt agile. There needs to be that switch of performance being based on your individual actions but to the results of a team. If you do that, if you have results based on team output, then all of a sudden that’s where the focus becomes and not on, “Oh, I want to be the one that gets the reward and recognition for us doing something.”

I wrote something about a team in a non-profit organization, and I think it’s the best team in the world. The reason why is because there’s no egos on the team, none of us have a title, we have clear understanding of what the goal is, and people step up depending on their skills and their abilities. It’s a great team, and as a group, we’re getting great recognition from the rest of the organization about how we’re acting and how we’re getting to the goal. There is some personal recognition because we all do certain things. People get pats on the back and great job, but overall our mission is for the goal of the team. I think a big difference between that team and the teams we’re on at work is nobody’s looking for a promotion. Nobody’s looking for a raise. No one’s worried about losing their job. We have none of that baggage. It’s a hard thing for people to go to this team-based approach when for so long, the attitude has been “what are you doing,” self-recognition, and self-fulfillment.

Jacqueline: Like you said, I’ve seen it go both ways. I have had previous students say, “Well, how do I get my individual recognition?” One organization that I recall is that when they made the shift, because a lot of people, especially if you’re working under command and control, you feel like your career or job is in the hands of the PM. That’s your mindset. They switched it where they went to 360 reviews. Everybody had equal feedback, so you knew that it’s not one person, but it’s the group that influences how the team operates. People got recognition when they went above and beyond where it helped bring the team together or where you “took one” for the team. It’s still tied to the team, but you got individual recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty or doing something for the team. The team got to vote on individual recognition, and they would move it around. I thought that that’s a concrete of example of making that shift and while still promoting that team spirit and acknowledging individuals for their contribution.

Kupe: Yeah. It’s not easy. I’ll admit, this stuff isn’t easy because we’ve all been on projects in school and in other things, and sometimes there’s people that pull more weight than others and start to get a little frustrated. You have to have hard, crucial conversations with your team mates. If things aren’t going well, everybody as a leader, whether they’re a small business owner or on a team, no matter what their role is, you have to have those crucial conversations and not be afraid to step out there and say, “Time out. Something is not right. How do we correct it?” That might mean either people decide “this team is not for me,” or corrections are made and you can have a good conversation and be like, “I realize now what I’m doing and how it’s impacting the team. I’m going to change my approach.” Those conversations have to happen.

I think in the past, and maybe still, more people go to their manager. For example, say David’s our manager, and Jacqueline, you and I aren’t getting along. I would go to David and say, “Hey, I’m really having problems with Jacqueline. She does XYZ.” Then, David would go to Jacqueline and say, “Ok, here’s what’s going on with the team. Jacqueline, can you change?” He would come back to me and give me feedback. If you really want to be a high performing team, you’re going to have to be open with each other, trust each other, and have these conversations, not that it’s personal, but that it’s the best thing for the team to move forward.

Jacqueline: Exactly. Good point. Let me just tie-in our audience. This is Jacqueline from Technology Expresso and Kupe from B2T Training. We’re going through the end-of-the-year list and those things that are hot topics for 2016. As you think about your continued professional development and your career in general in IT and business analysis, or to those starting out their career because we do have our audience of college students, recent graduates, and interns. Hello to all of them. We’re going to be sharing with you further insights and thoughts about the industry. If you’re not familiar with agile and want to pursue it more, definitely do some independent research, and visit I did get a question of whether B2T has public classes. Thank you for that question. I want to say, and of course Kupe can elaborate more than I can, that yes, we do have public classes. Kupe, would you like to elaborate on that one?

Kupe: Sure. You teach a lot of them. Yes, we have public open enrollment classes as well as on-site private classes. We also have on-demand webinars that you can download and watch. In 2016 we’re looking to do a video series as well. It’s going to be a blended learning type of approach, and it will coincide with some of our classes. You will also be able to subscribe to things. That’s on the horizon for B2T starting next year.

Jacqueline: Awesome. Thank you for that question, and continue submitting your questions. You don’t have to be shy. Usually, Kupe, we warm them up, and in the last 10 minutes they really like to hit us with the questions. Get your questions in early.

Kupe: Jacqueline and I, we can talk about this forever. That’s part of doing the show, but we also want to hear from you. We want to know are we hitting the marks for you as well. We don’t have a rating to see who’s staying on our show and not. Any feedback we can get so that we’re hitting the mark for you and helping you be better in what you do, that’s the goal.

Jacqueline: You can also tweet and use the hashtag #BizTechLiveChat. I would like to get a pulse if people find their environments agile, waterfall, or hybrid. Tell us what type of environment you’re in right now, and definitely, if you have any challenges or triumphs, this is about shared knowledge. Sometimes it’s nice to go outside of the company to get different perspectives. It’s a give and take. I want to transition a little bit. As we’re talking about skills and training, let’s talk about soft skills. That was something you brought up, and the other thing you talked about is the knowledge worker. I had two questions about that. When I think of soft skills, something near and dear to me is critical thinking. Another person, I think he’s on with us live, is Derrick Brown who is also very passionate, and he has been talking about critical thinking for some time. That’s one of the soft skills that I think is important. You and I did a co-presentation at the IIBA about it. Talking about a range of thinking skills including the soft skills, critical thinking, breakthrough thinking and design thinking – what other ones come to mind?

Kupe: When I brought that up, a big part of it was around getting to know, spending more time, and digging deeper into the people you work with; knowing how to influence and knowing what the political landscape is. It’s not good enough to know techniques and how to do things, but if you can’t influence other people and if you can’t move and sway people’s ideas and minds — not that you’re trying to manipulate, but everything we do is to help people make decisions and go a certain way. If you don’t have the ability to know how to influence a group, you could be in trouble. You could be the best in designing work-flow diagrams, but who really cares if you’re not focusing on what’s going to influence people. People that have a psychology, sociology, or anthropology degree — I actually met a BA today who is a trained anthropologist and is now using the skills in the BA profession. It’s about understanding people, what makes them tick, what motivates them, and how to get them engaged in the initiative that you’re working on.

There’s so many things going on in life. How do you get people to focus on the things that you need them to focus on for whatever you’re trying to do? That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned those softer skills. How do you be a better collaborator and a better team-player? Back to all the agile stuff, it’s about collaboration. Well, how do you be a better collaborator? That’s why I talk about improv a lot because to me, if you’re an improv actor and you’re not a good collaborator, you’re going to be a very bad improv actor. That’s where I learned a lot of my skills on how to collaborate, be open to ideas, and accept other people’s ideas. One of the key skills in improv is never deny. It’s not a skill; it’s a rule. You never deny, because improv is about getting information from the audience when starting a scene. There’s no scripts. To me, that’s life. We don’t have scripts in life. As you’re building that scene, if somebody says or does something, you have to react to that and not deny them in their idea. The view is that it’s reality to them, so you have to go with it and see what happens.

We play this game called ‘yes and.’ You have to take what somebody says, say yes, and then add on to the conversation and see where it takes you. When you’re on a team, the opposite of ‘yes and’ is ‘yes but.’ ‘Yes but’ is a denial. It’s building somebody up that you heard them, but you’re coming up with another idea. It’s like, “Yeah, I heard you, but the way we have to do it is this way.” If you keep using ‘yes but’ and you keep denying people in your talk and how you act, then they’re going to stop giving ideas. They’re not going to want to talk with you. They’re not going to want to collaborate with you. We’ve all had those managers that are the ‘yes but’ managers. They’ll say, “Come to me with ideas. I have an open door. Let’s do this together.” Then, you come to them with an idea, and they’re like, “Yeah, but we tried that last year and it didn’t work…yeah, but we can’t do that because we don’t have enough money…yeah, but we don’t have the resources to make that happen.” What happens when someone keeps saying ‘yeah but’ is you’re like, “Screw it. I’m through being that collaborator with you. Just tell me what you want to do and I’ll just do it.” It kills collaboration.

Jacqueline, you and I live in the South, so you always hear that comment “bless your heart.” It sounds really good. When I first heard it when I moved to the South, I did something, and someone would say, “Bless your heart.” I’m like, “They just blessed me. It’s so beautiful,” but really what they’re saying is like, “Poor Kupe. Your mom must have dropped you on the head a few too many times. You have problems.” It’s teaching people how to keep an open mind, keeping conversations moving forward, and keeping people in the mode where they want to collaborate with you. I think a lot of people, because we’re in such a rush in today’s environment, when somebody has an idea, to others it might seem crazy. They just jump in and are like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re going to get to that later. Let’s not even think about that. Let’s just do this.” They don’t pause enough to let those ideas in. Learning about improv helps you get better at accepting ideas, figuring out how to move forward, and having good, positive conversations. If you have an improv mindset, you’re going to be a killer team player. The good improv artists are like that. I’m trying to bring that applied improv. I don’t want to turn people into improv actors. That was never my goal, but I do want to turn them into people that are great collaborators. People in the improv space are great collaborators. Why not bring that to business?

Jacqueline: That is awesome. I knew that you were in improv, but I’ve never heard you dive in as deep as you just did.  It’s funny. I have some friends and colleagues in the BA field that I’ve known for years that have had acting and improv talents and aspirations, and now it all makes sense. Maybe that is the key to a great BA that you have to have that improv, go with the flow skill. I like something you said, and I might not quote it exactly, but “…it’s their reality, so you have to go with it”. At that moment, instead of shutting them down, it’s like, “Well, let’s follow that line of thinking.” As a matter of fact, I’ve seen that technique, too, and in class I was sharing with some students saying that before you tell them they’re wrong, tell them what’s right about what they said. You’re spending so much time before they can even finish their last syllable; you’re already jumping on them telling them they are wrong. When you do that, people are going to shut down. You’re going to lose both the flow of communication and the relationships.

Kupe: If I can add on to what you’re saying, you get the eye-rolls. You can tell. I can sit in a meeting and know when there’s going to be problems. You get the eye-rolls, you get people shaking their heads, and all of these different cues. To your point, when somebody says something, it is their reality. Even if it is a crazy idea, I tell people that you have to put it back on yourself. One of the things that you said I do, I tell people to say, “What I like about what you’re saying is XYZ.” There’s something that you can pull out of what they’re saying that is positive. Don’t go to the complete negative. Another thing is, if they said it, then to them, it’s reality and it’s a good idea. Put it back on yourself and say, “Help me understand how that thought will help us get to our objective in this meeting/project.” A lot of times, people are like, “You know what? It really doesn’t help us. It was just a crazy idea I had.” If you deny somebody and say, “That is a stupid, crazy idea. Let’s not even talk about it,” then they automatically get defensive. Now, you’re breaking the relationship and getting somebody to fight for something that probably wasn’t that important to begin with, but you automatically start this battle rather than putting it back on yourself saying, “I just don’t understand your idea. Give me some more information about it.” Maybe they enlighten you. Maybe it is a really good idea and it wasn’t this hair-brained idea, or maybe they can’t even explain why they came up with it and you move on.

Jacqueline: So true. Before we continue – I want to welcome some of our new listeners that jumped on. Thank you for joining Kupe and I on our recurring series. We’re talking about the trends going into the new year. Kupe, what we have been talking about and that knowledge worker, working on the soft skills, and I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get to it on this show, but I’m definitely going to put a placeholder. Some of my students will say, “I’m really introverted. I’m a business analyst, and I know the business world well, but I’m introverted.” I think that’s a whole different area, but I feel for them because I’ve done research on it when understanding some people that I’ve managed in the past. Sometimes, around people that know them, they may come across as extroverted, but deep down it’s a struggle for them, especially in a strange environment. I think that that’s interesting, and that’s a whole area we could talk about. As a business analyst, sometimes we do have to have some of those extroverted tendencies and soft skills because we’re in the middle and own major areas related to communication, collaboration, bringing people together, and sometimes even confronting some things that aren’t good for the team or the project.  There’s a lot of extroverted soft skills, but what do you do with introverted people?

Kupe: Yeah, I think we can jump into it. If we don’t have enough time, we can dedicate a segment to it down the road. I think in the space, you need to be extroverted and introverted. I’m an extroverted type person. I lean that way, but sometimes I think I need to be introverted where I talk out loud to come up with my ideas and my thoughts. I’m speaking as I’m thinking, where introverts are thinking, and they speak when they have formulated their thoughts. Sometimes I probably say things, and I lead a lot of my conversations. This is how you and I have our conversations offline. It’s like we start talking and all of a sudden, these thoughts start to form. I’ll even say when I’m dealing with people, “I’m just thinking out loud.” I don’t have fully fleshed-out thoughts, yet. I think extroverts need to share with people, “Hey, I’m an extrovert, and this is how I think. As I’m saying things, don’t quote me two weeks later like ‘you said this, so that’s what we agreed to.’” Extroverts need to be like, “Give me a second. Let me step back and think before I start talking.” At the same time, introverts need to at least explain to a group that, “Hey, the way I think is leaning more towards an introvert, so I am thinking over here. I am very engaged, but I’m not ready to share my thoughts, yet. I will when I’m ready, so don’t think I’m totally checked out of the conversation. I’m very engaged, but I’m just not speaking.”

I met someone this weekend who came out and said, “I’m a professional extrovert,” meaning that he leans toward introvert. He’d rather be introverted. In a group or in a one-on-one conversation, he’s more of the person that sits back, but he knows because of his role that he has to be that professional extrovert. To your point, like the people you met, you need to know yourself and you need to know your environment. Sometimes whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, you have to play those other roles depending on what is necessary. You can’t just lean on, “I’m an extrovert, and I’m always going to act like that.” That’s an immature kind of attitude, and I think it’s the same thing for introverts to say, “I’m an introvert. Deal with it or not.” If the situation calls for you to be extroverted, you have to also act like that. The key is communication and making people aware. I’ve seen that with introverts, people get thrown off. We’re in a meeting or having this great conversation and the introverted person is just sitting there. If you don’t know them that well and know that they’re introverted, you think that they’re totally disengaged. Also, sometimes people think extroverts are completely crazy like, “Do you ever take a breath to let other people talk?”

Jacqueline: Both of those are great points. I know we’re going to dive a little bit more in the new year in talking about soft skills. As we’re wrapping up this episode, we’ve been talking about the hot topics that will carry into 2016. If we got it wrong, let us know. You can talk to us on Twitter: #BizTechLiveChat. You can follow Kupe @Kupe and me @RequirementsPro. Keep the conversation going and help us queue up some new topics for next year. One of the ones we haven’t had time to dive into as we wrap up is design thinking. Kupe, as you said, that’s going to be one that will really gain traction next year. Any final words or thoughts to leave with us as we go into the new year?

Kupe: Yeah. I think design thinking at its heart is a creative, problem-solving approach. A big focus, and this might be different in other areas, but the big focus is getting the customer lens. Too often, companies think of cool ideas, and they think of them in terms of, is it viable for our business? Does it fit in with our business? Technically, can we do it? In the end, is it something that the customer is going to want to consume that is good for the customer? The number one thing with today’s CEOs is customer experience. If we think about even how we purchase things and how we deal with things, it’s all about how a company makes you feel and the attitude that you have. Why do people spend $5, $6 for a Starbucks coffee? Is it really that much better than something you can get at Dunkin Donuts, QuikTrip or a gas station? Probably not, but there’s a feeling or an attitude that you get when you walk into a Starbucks shop. The same thing with Apple. Why do people spend that much more on Apple products? I’m a Samsung guy and I have a Samsung phone, so I haven’t bought into that, but my kids can’t believe I have a Samsung phone when they have iPhones. My son thinks I’m crazy and that I should get an iPhone. It’s all about that, and that’s what design thinking helps with. It’s an approach to focus on that. Design thinking is about coming up with ideas for the next big thing. Dovetail’s great when you get into software development. It’s a great basis for agile. Now that you have this great idea, program, project, or initiative, now you can implement it using the agile mindset and agile approach to get things out the door.

Jacqueline: We’re in that era of innovation, so that design thinking goes right in line with that. Even people who have corporate jobs, it’s about them having an entrepreneurial mindset, even on their job. That’s why I can completely understand the design thinking around that. I think David wanted to make a comment, too. David, I’m going to open up your mic. Are you there?

David: Yes, I am. This is great information, and me coming in and listening as a project manager, all of this information, Kupe, is really resonating with me. It’s really important to understand the role of my teammates, of my BA’s, and my engineering teams as well. All of this is great information, and I can’t agree with you more of the agile mindset that you’re speaking of and coming up with solutions in a collaborative format. Everything is resonating with me and our listening audience. I didn’t have a question. I just wanted to make a statement there.

Kupe: Thank you David. I appreciate it.

Jacqueline: Thank you. Kupe, our time is up. This week I hope people enjoyed eavesdropping on one of our brainstorming, extroverted brain dumps. I definitely look forward to next year. There are so many other topics. I’m going to be polling on Social Media so that we get us a nice backlog of questions and answers. There are different time zones and different commitments, so not everybody can make it to listen to the LIVE on the air session, but we will read your question, we will give you a shout out, and we will acknowledge you. We want you to join the conversation, share your input and insight in future episodes!

Kupe and I may not have it all right, and that’s what I love about teaching with B2T and our classes. I learn every time I go into a classroom, even though I’m facilitating the learning process. Thank you Kupe. Thank you B2T for all of your support of Technology Expresso. To you, to the whole staff at B2T, Tina, Mary, Nelson, Dennis, Kaley, Shane and all of the instructors, thank you. Happy and safe holidays to everyone. We’ll be talking with you, Kupe, in two weeks. Thank you everyone for all your help and support. That ends the LAST episode of Technology Expresso for 2015.

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