Too many people believe that the ONLY way to build the skills required to be a great business analyst is to do more business analysis, also known as experience. Which basically means, you have to keep doing below standard work until you get good, which isn't guaranteed. This is mostly because its difficult to really take the time and practice skill correctly when you're pressured by deadlines.
I've already explained why even averge business analyst skills aren't good enough, so you should know that the future of business analysis is in our hands. By our hands, I mean those of use willing to work at being more than just average (<- I know that is you because if it wasn't, you wouldn't be here). So here are some ways to improve your skills outside the office, so your work products and deliverables can start looking better and being more effective sooner.
1. Practice Skills with Your Family and Friends
There are a variety of verbal communication skills and techniques that most people usually have room to get better in. Fortunately those same skills also make you a better person, husband, wife, friend, father, mother, etc. I practice with my friends and family on a regular basis by picking a few skills that I need improvement in and then practice them. Every once in a while I go back to the books to pick out new skills as I get better. My favorites to start with come from Dale Carniegie and Steve Covery (Check the BA Reading List). Some easy ones to practice are...
- First seek to understand, then seek to be understood (Covey)
- Smile (Carniegie)
- If your wrong, admit it quickly (Carniegie)
- Give praise and honest appreciation (Carniegie)
- Let the other person save face (Carniegie)
2. Practice as a Free Lancer
Practicing as a free lancer might help you develop more concrete and specific skills, especially around specialized software programs. Process modelling, wireframing, technical writing, etc. All the things that make your more effective at communicating via documented artifacts. A lot of these things you get significantly better at simply by become more efficient with whatever tools you choose to use. For me personally, I use this blog to practice my writing skills (which I really hated in school).
3. Volunteer as A Coach, Tutor, Teacher, Leader, Etc.
This one is another communication and interaction skills opportunity, plus you get the bonus of potentially making a difference in the community. What you teach, tutor, or coach doesn't need to be related to your current role. In college, I was a dance instructor for several organizations (some paid, some voluntary, all fun). At work, I have volunteered as a trainer and a coach (we have fitness challenges every year). These things had nothing to do with business analysis, however, the skills I gained around communication and interaction certainly helped me do my job better.
Do you have any other ways to enhance your BA Skill away from the job? I'd like to hear other ways you guys have been able to build on your skills outside the office (Leave Comments!)
If you are looking for a great starting place to find new ways to start developing business analysis specific skills, check out Business Analysis Skills Essentials @ Udemy.com
A quick start guide to understanding, practicing and implementing various business analysis skills to make you a more productive business analyst. (70% Discount because this is a Meta Business Analyst Course). Learn More >>
BA Compentencies Covered: Analytical Thinking, Problem Solving, Learning, Creative Thinking, Verbal Communication, Written Communication, and Meeting Facilitation. Learn More >>