We attended an Atlanta PMI luncheon this month with an excellent speaker, Michael Wilkinson from Leadership Strategies, www.leadstrat.com, talking about The Power of Facilitation. The presentation was very interesting and useful but not at all what I expected. Being focused on business analysis and requirements gathering, when I hear the word “facilitation” I see a group of business stakeholders sitting around a large table talking about their business needs with a BA facilitating the session. Michael’s talk was about facilitating good decision making and managing vs. leading. My confusion prompted me to think about the fact that the Business Analyst profession is building its own vocabulary for our work – just as other professions have done. Accountants use “debits” and “credits” in a very specific way. IT professionals use acronymns to talk about database access (SQL) and programming lanuages (PHP, HTML). We, as Business Analysts, are translators of these languages, helping business stakeholders understand what the IT team is proposing and helping the IT team understand the business lingo. We need to be careful that as we evolve our profession we don’t get stuck in our own language and lose our ability to communicate with others. This is our most important skill and our true value to our customers. So, the lesson for me is to recognize that when I hear the word “facilitation” or “requirement,” I don’t assume that I know what the speaker means. I ask questions.

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