Well it’s May and the deadline for submitting the first draft slide deck for the BA Conference Europe 2019 looms ahead like a large loom wearing a slightly under-sized cape….. We are now at the stage where we have provided our one page synopsis and are now creating the deck that will deliver it. As a reference point, here is the synopsis of my presentation; I may well refer to it in future…. (NB: I have redacted some of my content to avoid spoiling the surprise at the actual event)
Business Analysis: The Middle Way – synopsis: David Beckham
This presentation introduces a fresh way of looking at the Business Analysis role via the unusual lens of Samurai and martial arts strategies. The Middle Way concept has evolved throughout my career based on a long interest in these topics, plus my out of work interests as a fencing coach and my firm belief that you can learn a lot about your job from other apparently unrelated disciplines and subjects. It has also been heavily influenced by my recent learning as a coach and mentor of my BA Practice during which I have studied many methods of building confidence in new or developing BAs and as a result have become convinced that by adopting a mental stance of ‘letting go’ you actually become more empowered, confident and correspondingly less pressured and stressed.
I begin with a brief introduction to myself and how my interest in the subject matter came about. I then introduce two main Japanese historical characters who I will reference throughout the session; Miyamoto Musashi and Yagyu Munenori, explaining their background and philosophy before recounting examples of their exploits and thinking which I believe are particularly resonant for BAs. This section concludes with Musashi’s most important tenets which are:
- Think without any dishonesty
- Touch upon all of the arts
- Know the way of all occupations
- Know the advantages and disadvantages of everything
- Learn to see everything accurately
- Pay attention to even small things
- Do nothing useless
I will explain why each of these is directly relevant to business analysis and why they have become a cornerstone of my career. This section concludes with Musashi’s pragmatic theory developed from his long career as a duellist and warrior, “It is crucial to think of everything as an opportunity to kill”.
Section two commences with the heart of the Middle way concept which are in essence my key learning and principles developed over the last 20+ years as a BA. They are intended as an echo of Musashi’s and are as follows:
After explaining these I then examine in more detail how these principles allow a BA to deal more effectively with the following areas of their career. Confidence, conflict management, crisis situations, leadership and the ultimate point of strategy “It is crucial to think of everything as an opportunity to make a difference”. This provides a concluding echo of Musashi’s philosophy which concluded section one. There will then be an opportunity for discussion and questions.
Creating a deck of slides is one of the things I really enjoy and over the years I have accumulated some hints and tips that you might find useful; some of them are practical, some of them are more aesthetically based or philosophical but hopefully they will be of some use….
Build your story-line first
As you can see from my synopsis above I already have a structure in mind that is basically
PART 1 – Personal intro/back story + historical examples
PART 2 – My interpretation of a framework
PART 3 – conclusion and questions
The story you are going to tell should be reasonably clear in your head by now, seeing as you’ve had to think it through in order to do your synopsis but if not, it’s probably the main thing you want to concentrate on as it’s what will hold your story together. You can create this by using a model something like the one below ……
My presentation is essentially is a journey that introduces the audience to a novel frame of reference (Samurai Japan), tells some interesting tales that can be used as intriguing metaphors for Business Analysis and then presents my own personal learning through contemplating these metaphors over the last fifteen plus years. There is a final call to action regarding employing these techniques which will clearly explain my motivation and encourage adaption by the audience.
At this point it is useful to look at the following:
Your opening – what are you going to say that immediately hooks the audience in? Most people start with an introduction something like this…. “Hello, my name is David Beckham. I’m a senior BA at Aviva and have been a BA for over twenty years… I am really pleased to be presenting today on the subject of how you can create your own effective framework based on the historical perspective of Samurai Japan……” Adequate but not really gripping is it? So my opening will be something along the lines of “The Japanese Samurai were elite warriors who pledged their lives to the honourable service of their clan, swearing to act on behalf of the greater good. As a Business Analyst I commit to providing clarity and efficiency to my organisation in whatever assignments I am given. In my view it is no coincidence that Bushi, the Japanese word for warrior and Business Analyst both start with B and U and in this session I intend to show you why……” If you can craft an opening sentence that gets the audiences’ attention, you are on your way. Then if you memorise it you immediately have a confidence booster at the start which you can build on.
The Transformation – by this I mean how you wish the audience to be changed by your presentation. At a basic level it could be this:
The audience knows little about Samurai Japan transformed to the audience knows a bit more about Samurai Japan
The audience do not have a framework for their activity transformed to the audience have a framework in place and what’s more it’s very similar to yours!
If you can figure out your transformation you can then further develop your story to reinforce it.
The conclusion – usually in the form of a summary/re-cap of the salient points you have presented with either a call to action, a picture of the new world or the potentialities your presentation. My conclusion may be something like “So, who would have thought that the philosophy and writings of a warrior creed from halfway across the world and half a millennia ago could be so relevant to our role today? Hopefully I have shown that this is the case and that we too can do our jobs with purpose and even perhaps a faint tinge of honour…….. Thank you very much, or should I rather say “Domo Arigato”……
So there’s something for you to consider; I shall be posting more in the next few days so do pop round again soon; I’ll have the kettle on……