The Pathfinding Business Analyst

Have you heard about the Pathfinding Business Analyst?

It’s someone who has done their formal training and yet cannot bring themselves to produce zero-value artefacts because the manual tells them.

Rather, at any point in time, the Pathfinding Business Analyst is looking across programme structures, deliverables, staffing and budgets, unable not to see the looming issues and blockers. And it worries them, often at night outside of work hours.

It’s not a new way of working, or a role, or some kind of ‘state of being’. It’s how holistic, systems-thinking, value-oriented, outcome-producing individuals see the world. They are neurologically wired differently to find patterns, where others cannot (easily).

Organisations do well to hire Pathfinding Business Analysts, as they are exceptionally good at bringing structure to organisation chaos, navigating politics, making sense of under-the-surface limitations, calling out dysfunction, and importantly, clearing the critical path for project delivery.

But don’t expect Pathfinding Business Analysts to draw up a RACI chart if communication is already functioning perfectly well. You won’t see perfectly formed user stories and BDD acceptance scripts, either, if the dev and test team are already knocking features out of the ballpark.

Instead, the Pathfinding Business Analyst will be off working out how the feature toggle needs to work for different app stores. Or why stories habitually don’t get completed by sprint end, even with a scrum master in place. Or mitigating a delay in a 3rd party dependency no one else thought about. Usually, a never-ending list of issues peripheral to the formal job of your vanilla BA.

Is it all a bit rouge? Only if you hire badly and place the Pathfinding Business Analyst into some stuffy, BAU role with low autonomy and far removed from the value creation. Learning and producing change, not for the bottom line, but because of how they see the world, is what drives them.

I hope to see the Pathfinding Business Analyst become something clients and employers start to explicitly seek out, separate to other types of BA roles. For the very reasons outlined above.

Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly remote, outsourced and offshore development teams working in financial services.

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