In the world of business, influence is power, and without it achieving professional success can be an uphill battle. We need to take our cue from the social media world, we need to become influencers, not of popular culture and style, but of business strategy and corporate change. An effective influencer is defined as someone who’s able to move people and shape opinions by understanding what makes people tick, both on a personal and professional level. An influencer is typically someone who’s highly respected, not just for their technical skill, but for what they stand for within the organisation. But how does one become an effective influencer? Firstly, it’s important to understand that you can’t become an influencer overnight. Honing your influencing skills take time and practice. At Analyze, we’ve made the journey a little easier by having come up with the following list of 7 tips to help get you there: 1.Create a foundation of trust Everything starts with trust. When people trust that you are who you say you are and that you’ll do what you say you’ll do, they’ll be more open to your influence. If you’re already in a leadership position, those who report to you will of course have to execute tasks you give them, but with true influence it’s not about them having to do something for you, but instead them wanting to do something for you. 2.Be consistently consistent Nobody likes to work with someone who’s performance is all over the place. Be consistent in your principles and beliefs, the way you tackle tasks, and your attitude towards people and the organisation. With consistent behaviour, people will come to rely on you in a way that increases your power. 3.Learn to stand your ground the right way Standing your ground without coming off as pushy or aggressive is a fine art. You need to be able to sell your ideas with confidence and conviction, but without any level of arrogance. Practice humble confidence, research your facts, and be ready to argue your case without actually arguing. 4.Get personal The power of personal relationships is often overlooked when building your influence, but being able to connect with people on a personal level gives you an immediate foot in the door. It also promotes comradery and a level of openness that leads to better collaboration and team work. 5.Listen more Influence is not just about you exerting your power over others, it’s also about opening up a dialogue and hearing other people’s ideas. The more you support the ideas of others, the more they’ll be willing to support your ideas. You also never know what opportunities can arise from collaborating with those who have their own level of influence. 6.Watch your body language Take a look around your organisation, how do those with the most influence carry themselves? How do they speak, stand, dress? These may seem like superficial things at first, but how people see you has a direct impact on your level of influence. Unfortunately, people are wired to judge a book by its cover, so make sure that your cover says: Follow me! 7.Be willing to switch things up Don’t limit yourself to just one influencing style. Be willing to try out different influencing tactics to see what works and what doesn’t, particularly when in different situations and working with different groups of people. Real influence comes from knowing what style will be most impactful when. Want to share your thoughts about influence and becoming more influential with us? Get in touch or leave a comment below.
Would you believe that one of the top reasons for project failure is the lack of active & engaged sponsorship? We’re guessing probably not… That’s because you’ll likely first want to point a finger at things like scope creep, poorly defined requirements, lack of project governance & poor communication. These are of course all valid reasons for project failure, but at Analyze we’ve realised the one item that often gets overlooked is how strong your project sponsors are. Gone are the days where a sponsor only provided funding and then checked in every now and then to see what’s happening to their money. If you’ve been asked to fill a project sponsor role you need to understand the critical role a sponsor plays in driving a project forward. At Analyze, we believe that a great sponsor has to: Have the right level of authority It’s important for a sponsor to have the right level of seniority, influence & authority. If they’re not in a position to assist the team in removing blockers and making things happen, their impact will be very limited. Be available & willing to get more involved A sponsor who’s spread too thinly spells trouble for any project. You need someone who can get involved in the detail. A great sponsor is there from beginning to end, not only as an escalation point, but also as a sounding board & coach. Have a good understanding of the problem at hand The project sponsor should be able to clearly articulate the problem which needs to be solved, be specific about by when it needs to be solved, and define how the project will know once it has been solved. Without this level of understanding a sponsor could end up backing a project that ends up completely missing the mark. Assemble the right team It’s the sponsor’s responsibility to source the right resources with the appropriate skills to deliver a successful end result. In situations where sponsors aren’t able to assign all team members directly, they need to bargain and negotiate with other teams & departments to secure the best team possible. Keep the dialogue open Regular, two-way communication with the project team, particularly the project manager, is key. A great sponsor is able to give direction while also listening to ideas and collaborating with subject matter experts within the team. Be willing to make the tough decisions A great sponsor is someone you can turn to when things are not going according to plan and tough decisions are needed to get the project moving forward again. An indecisive sponsor will only lead to wasted time, effort & money. Help navigate the political landscape Competing projects, priorities and agendas are the norm within any organisation. A great sponsor will help the project navigate through these types of challenges to ensure that it gets the right level of attention in order to succeed. Want to chat to us about sponsor coaching or share your thoughts about what makes sponsors great within your business? Get in touch. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Change management remains a continuously evolving discipline that has gained greater focus over the past few years as businesses realise that without being able to successfully manage change, their competitive edge is soon at risk. As the world of change management continues to gather momentum, there are 7 key trends which we predict will carry through in 2018: #1 – Growing support for change management as a discipline Change management has emerged as a key competency for many organisations as senior level stakeholders realise the impact it has on the adoption of new ideas and processes delivered by projects and business initiatives. It’s finally being seen as a non-negotiable for successful implementation rather than an add-on to improve people management. #2 – Broader, company-wide change management application Change management has become a day-to-day consideration across all departments of a business, rather than being “just a project thing”. We’re seeing change management practices being applied for all levels of change, no matter how small or informal. #3 – Increased recognition of the value to the business Although many organisations have already acknowledged the role change management plays in successful delivery, even more recognition is expected to come its way as businesses start focusing on sustained change and change resilience. #4 – Increased demand for change management professionals Of course as support for and application of change management practices grows, companies will need more people to support it. Over the past few years, the number of change management related job openings has increased and will continue to do so in 2018. We also predict an increase in learning & certification options to support this increased demand. #5 – A strong push towards developing internal change capabilities Not all companies will be able to recruit new change management professionals and will therefore look at developing their internal change capabilities through on-the-job training and company sponsored education options. There will also be a need to define organisational change standards that are aligned to the company’s specific needs. #6 – Integration with project management practices Project managers have recognised the key role that change management plays in project success. The two disciplines are no longer working as silos, but are in fact becoming more integrated. We’ve seen how formal change management methodologies are being incorporated into the broader project plan and how change management professionals now play an integral role in the project team. #7 – Rapid development of digital change tools Expect more and more change assessment, simulation and planning tools to hit the market this year as organisations start searching for better ways to visualise & share change plans, identify change risks & hot spots, and create a holistic view of all change activities across the organisation. As you can see, there are some exciting times ahead for the change management industry. If this is an area you feel you need some assistance with please Get in touch. We’re always happy to discuss your specific change requirements in order to identify areas where we think we can make the biggest impact.
Coaching and peer coaching are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but incorrectly so. These two concepts are actually very different. Where traditional coaching (or mentoring) involves one person imparting information and skills on to another, peer coaching is defined as a confidential process through which two or more professional colleagues work together to: reflect on current practices expand, refine and build new skills share ideas teach one another conduct classroom research solve problems in the workplace Where coaching is very much a give and take relationship, peer coaching is a mutually beneficial relationship or equal partnership where the joint goal is to improve each person’s productivity and effectiveness. Effective peer coaching tends to align with the following key principles: It must have a formal structure This is more than just a casual chat with a friend at work. Employees engaged in peer coaching need to setup a regular time to meet up with a defined agenda of items to work through. All participants must practice their active listening skills The key here is to really listen to the information that’s being shared, to analyse it, question it, and to understand how one would apply it in their day-to-day working environment. It must not be seen as a technical handover session Peer coaching participants are not there to teach each other technical skills. Peer coaching should focus on personal and professional development only. If you happen to pick up some technical know-how along the way, that’s just a bonus. But how does peer coaching benefit the business? Well it’s quite simple really: Peer coaching is a cost-effective way to promote employee growth and performance which of course leads to improved productivity and a positive impact on your bottom line. For the employee, it also means: Improved engagement and learning on the job People thrive when they can feed off each other’s energy, knowledge & experience. Positive impact on team dynamics Peers are more likely to discuss issues or obstacles with each other than with a manager. Peer coaching opens this flow and leads to stronger relationships and improved collaboration. There’s none of the traditional coaching stigma Traditionally, coaching was associated with you being bad at your job & therefore needing to go for some form of training, but with peer coaching the focus is more on colleagues helping each other transition from good to great. No more departmental silos Because you’re not focusing on job technicalities per se, a good peer coach can be anyone who you feel a good connection with. You can look beyond your department and build friendship networks across various teams. At the end of the day, peer coaching is both beneficial to the business as well as its employees, but we all know that happy employees make for good business which in turn leads to great things. Let us help you establish peer coaching as a value add in your business. Get in touch.
Where project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools & techniques to execute against project requirements, project collaboration focuses on the way people, teams, departments and even companies come together to achieve that one common goal: Project success Effective project collaboration requires open communication, an environment that fosters idea sharing and transparency between teams, whether co-located or remote. This means that in a lot of instances, traditional project management methods can introduce barriers to this more fluid way of operating. This is because with traditional project management all communication tends to flow from and to the project manager only, but with project collaboration teams become more self-managing, still interacting with the project manager, but also directly with each other. At the end of the day, good project management will most certainly get the job done, but there are many reasons why project collaboration should not be overlooked. At Analyze, we’ve summarised these into 4 key areas: Increased productivity & reduced time to market When you have one person working in isolation, likely trying to support more than one project at a time, progress will be limited to what that individual can realistically achieve in a day. By distributing tasks, you’re not only splitting the workload, but you’re also allowing team members to work together and apply their combined minds to a problem. This leads to increased productivity which in turn leads to a reduced time to market – something which all business strive for. Improved communication across the board We’ve yet to see a project where project collaboration has not had a positive impact on communication across all levels. In a collaborative project environment, the project manager is no longer burdened with the task of “sole communicator”, and with communication freely flowing across various channels, nobody’s left out of the loop. Stronger employee relationships & improved employee retention To many of us, the people we work with is as important (if not more important) as the company we work for. This is because as human beings we feed of each other’s energy in order to achieve more. A collaborative project environment gives employees the opportunity to interact with people from different teams and departments which stimulates personal development, relationship building and general workplace happiness. Reduced costs due to flexi hours and working remotely The more people collaborate on getting the job done, the less they need management to watch over their shoulder. Online collaboration tools (of which there are many to choose from) also make it easy for employees to stay in touch with each other without being in the same place at the same time. This allows people to work more flexible hours, or even from home, which eventually should lead to a reduction in operational costs. When project management and project collaboration come together you have an unbeatable recipe for success. It will take some time to research and select the right collaboration tool(s) for your company, and your employees will likely need to go on collaboration training, but the end result will be well worth it. Need some help getting your company’s collaboration skills up to scratch? Give us a call on 021 447 5696 or email email@example.com.
Understanding the business landscape to plot a sustainable future Analyze Consulting successfully assisted the operations team of a large non-profit organisation (NPO) to gain a clear understanding of their business, processes and key objectives which effectively enabled them to determine the way forward for their organisation. Read the full case study here A Case Study – Clear insight drives future efficiencies
Successful business analysis hinges on the analyst’s ability to tap into the mind of the customer, finding the best tools and techniques to align with customer needs, and developing products and services that create real market value. The question, however, is: How can traditional analysis methods be supplemented to achieve a more customer focused result? Enter: Design thinking. Design thinking is not a new concept. The term can be traced back to the 60s, 70s and 80s where it was used in the context of engineering, architecture and urban planning. It was adapted for business use by David M Kelley, founder of design consultancy IDEO, in the early 90s and today the goal is to get all BAs to “think like a designer” when tackling tough business problems. Formally, design thinking is defined as a human-centered approach which integrates people needs with business needs and technical possibilities. In this context, the people needs speak to what is desired by the end user, the business needs speak to the viability of the solution and the technical possibilities speak to what is achievable using available technologies. It’s finding the sweet spot (so to speak) amongst these 3 key elements that requires a different way of thinking. Design thinking follows a very specific workflow: Understand Which in traditional BA methods would equate to problem definition and information & requirements gathering. Explore Designers like to refer to this step as “ideation”. It requires you to create a cross-discipline team that then collaborates in coming up with as many ideas to solve your business problem as possible. Prototype Ideas are then transformed into low- or high-fidelity prototypes which are used to test the concepts with real users, comparing them using a defined set of metrics, and gaining further learnings. Evaluate The final step involves a lot of data mining in order to determine whether you’ve got an idea that you want to take forward, or whether you need to go back to the ideation step. From this you can see that design thinking has a very strong iterative approach. BAs should plan for this by creating analysis sprints during which you try to move through the steps above as quickly as possible in order to get real customer feedback earlier. Then it’s about being willing to restart the process again, refining as you move from sprint to sprint, until you get to a point where you’re pretty certain you have the right fit. It’s no longer about taking a set of requirements which you gathered up front and then defining a solution based on this without any further input along the way. The key learning from design thinking is that customers are able explain their requirements in a clearer way once they have something in front of them which represents your understanding of their needs. It’s the only way to ensure that you don’t get a nasty surprise at implementation phase as you realise that your customers don’t actually want to use what you have built. Need a BA with design thinking experience and/or expertise? Please Get in touch to find out how we can assist you.
Within the world of problem solving and idea generation, there are two schools of thought: Divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Let’s take a closer look at what these two terms mean: With divergent thinking – think free flowing & abstract The goal here is to come up with as many answers, concepts or suggestions as possible. This of course requires a lot of creativity with no restrictions. No answer should be seen as wrong or too crazy, all ideas should be considered, no matter how left field they seem. Sometimes the best solution isn’t obvious right off the bat, but a crazy idea could have grounding for a solid idea to develop from it. With convergent thinking – think structured & well-defined This technique is best used where the answer to the problem should be relatively straightforward. It requires far less creativity and way more logic. With convergent thinking, you’ll draw from common knowledge, facts, previous learnings and recorded data. Think of exams at school or university for example. To pass these, you had to apply convergent thinking, not divergent thinking. From this definition, these two thinking methods can seem competing in many ways, and for a very long time it was seen as an either or option. But over recent years this view has slowly changed and more and more companies are realising the benefits of employing both. Now the question is: How do you use both divergent thinking & convergent thinking towards improved problem solving? At Analyze, we recommend a two-step process: Step 1: Start with divergence Divergent thinking can be a daunting task, especially if your team does not fancy themselves as being creative. The fact is, creativity is not owned by “creatives”. We all have creative ability if given the chance to explore this part of our persona. Create a safe zone where ideas can flow, use other companies doing great things within your industry as a source of creative stimulus and collaborate with other departments/teams to come up with a broader range of ideas. The most important thing to remember is to resist the temptation to shoot down an idea that seems too impractical or unrealistic in any way. Every idea must be documented, no matter what. Step 2: Finetune with convergence Now that you’ve got that list of ideas, it’s time to narrow them down to find your ultimate solution. At this point you need to consider things like your customer preferences and what you think will resonate with them most, your team and corporate culture and how this influences project dynamics, as well as your broader company strategy and goals. Use these to define a set of criteria that can be used to evaluate each idea and assign a viability score. If you end up with 2 or more equally promising options, ask your team to do a quick vote to see which one they’d choose and why. It’s a great way of generating a productive debate which will help to narrow things down further. Need someone to facilitate a think tank session or brainstorming exercise? Could your team benefit from an outsider’s perspective to assist with solving a particular problem? Get in touch.
Analyze Case Study Just 26% of organisational transformational change initiatives are considered to be successful. Include a software implementation as a key dependency to that change and it is likely that those odds will be even less. This makes having a robust Change Management toolkit a key input to address the challenges presented by a transformational change initiative. Read here: Analyze Case Study – Leading change with people
In today’s project world, you’re either waterfall or agile. Never both. Never something in between. But why has it become such a big waterfall vs agile debate? And do we fully understand the two extremes these two methodologies present? Over the past few years, waterfall as a project methodology has definitely taken a back seat in favour of the new, cool kid on the block – agile. Throwing around terms like scrum, lean & extreme programming has certainly become very on trend. Unfortunately, most companies don’t quite “get it”. They like the thought of getting things done faster and being more flexible, but they don’t actually want to align with all the principles that go along with being fully agile. What companies should be asking themselves is: What is waterfall not giving us? And what can we do to improve on those things? Therefore, we’re no longer seeing waterfall as the enemy and agile as the magic wand, but instead taking a closer look at what it is we actually want to achieve and then making changes to help get there. We’ve found that most companies actually just want to be more adaptable, and in order to achieve this goal, an iterative approach has proven more likely to lead to success. You want to be in a position where you can test a new product, service or concept as quickly as possible to confirm whether it’s going to work or not. Prototyping, as an example, is a great way to test something quite quickly, then make changes & test it again. In this way you’re also ensuring that you’re getting real customer input from very early on. We’re not saying that going agile is wrong in any way. We’re just saying take a step back & try to understand why you feel you need to go agile. The following questions should help to identify your main areas of concern: What makes your projects difficult to manage? Why do project end results miss the mark in terms of customer value? Are there processes that run up costs unnecessarily? How good is your quality assurance? Have you considered using test automation to assist? What is the general feeling towards the project methodology currently in place? A full agile adoption requires a company-wide culture change. By understanding your core issues, you can take smaller steps towards where you want to be without having to jump from one extreme to the next. A project methodology on its own is not the be all and end all. It’s purely a structure that can help shape your actions, but it’s not your only option for getting things done. The key is to find the right fit for your specific company needs, be it a blend, a purist view, or something quite custom to you. Want to talk to us about how your company can become more adaptable? Get in touch.