2015 agile reflectionsIt’s that time of year again. Time to bravely project what will happen in the upcoming year, hoping no one remembers and holds us to it at the end of the year.

But, how about a different approach this year? I’m going to reflect back on how I did with my projections at the beginning of 2015, and after that exercise decide if I’m brave enough to make any projection for 2016.

So here goes…

  1. The number of organizations utilizing (or claiming to utilize) agile will continue to grow.

    Agile has definitely reach buzzword status, and as I hinted at in my blog post from the beginning of the year, far too many organizations adopt agile practices, without making the necessary mindset changes to work according to agile principles and values. Because of that, organizations feel as though they have fallen victim to an old mind trick: “these aren’t the benefits you were looking for.”

  2. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) will continue to be the hot new buzzword for “scaling” agile.

    This certainly happened as more and more organizations became seduced by the lure of a concrete set of instructions for practices such as getting 200 people together in room to plan the next three months of work. There is a lot of guidance incorporated into SAFe, and many teams find that they never seem to be able to complete their training.

  3. The new PMI-PBA certification will continue to grow in popularity with the release of the Business Analysis For Practitioners: A Practice Guide and advertising out to the broader PMI community.

    As of September 9, 2015 400 people had “taken and passed the PBA exam” according to a speaker at the Chicagoland PMI Chapter. For those folks their insight served them well.

  4. Some business analysts will be asked to take on multiple roles on projects, especially project management and testing.

    This was already happening when I made the prediction and so seemed as inevitable as the combination makes sense because the line between testing and analysis activities gets blurred especially with the use of techniques such as specification by example. Wearing these multiple hats lead some business analysts to wonder whether it’s a trap, but they find building the breadth of their skills to be quite helpful.

  5. Some business analysts will specialize in very specific areas of analysis, such as cost benefit analysis, scoping, or IT project requirements.

    This was also happening when I made the prediction at the beginning of the year. It is in effect the dark side of the previous prediction, or light side depending on your point of view.

  6. People with business analysis backgrounds will continue to make their way into positions where they have a broader organizational influence, although they won’t always be doing it with the title “business analyst.”

    As with the previous two predictions, something that was already occurring. In this case, people with business analysis skills found they translated well into several other areas, and also left them saying “Yeah, I’m responsible now, the price you pay for being successful.”

  7. Efforts of folks like Sarah Gibson will start to bring more attention to the need to incorporate some design thinking into business analysis activities.

    I was remiss to also mention Blair Loveday in the mention of people who are trying to bring more attention to the use of design thinking. I’d say this prediction came partially true. There is a growing number of people who are using design thinking techniques, but there Is much more progress than can be made. Some proponents have taken to declaring “I find your lack of discovery disturbing”.

  8. There will continue to be confusion and disagreement over exactly what the responsibilities of business analysts are, even through there are now at least three specific descriptions of what a business analyst does (IIBA, BCS, and PMI).

    As I look back through these predictions I realize the majority of my predictions are based on a lot of thing continuing as they are. This did happen, and I think it will continue into 2016. Let’s face it, there are different understanding about business analyst responsibilities because business analysis occurs in so many different situations. Said another way, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

  9. The business analysis community will start to focus on outcomes rather than output.

    This prediction, just like the one about design thinking didn’t hold as true as I would have liked. There are more people explicitly focusing on outcomes rather than output, but the fact remains that there are many teams and business analysis practitioners that focus more on their outputs (ie requirements) than on the outcome (satisfying stakeholder’s needs). And if you’re wondering why to focus on outcomes, because it’s the right thing to do.

So what do I take from all this? I wish I could say that everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.  But alas, I can’t.

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future. Nonetheless, here is my take at what 2016 will bring.

More of the same.

Just as many of my predictions for 2015 were about continuing trends, I see nothing that is going to change those trends in the upcoming year.

There is one trend that is in your control and can definitely improve your effectiveness. The more you focus on maximizing outcome with minimum output, the more satisfied your stakeholders will be, and the more valued you will be in your organization.

The focus on outcomes over output requires a mindset shift that can be difficult, but is very powerful when you are able to do it. But you can’t do it halfway. Do or do not. There is no try.

Thank you,

– Kent


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