Dive Below the Shallows to Innovate as a Business Analyst

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Eugene Etsebeth shares guidelines and examples of how to dive below the shallows, and focus on deep-work to add value and innovate as a business analyst.

Eugene Etsebeth is a Team Lead Business Analyst at the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), holding a B.COM, MBA (cum laude), CBAP and Diploma in Business Analysis.

Eugene loves cycling and anything digital – especially settlement, blockchain and virtual currencies – with his mission being to solve problems and be the best he can be.

Congratulations on your recent talk at the Business Analysis Summit Southern Africa, it was well received by many. For those who weren’t fortunate to attend, could you give us a synopsis of what your presentation was about?

Business analysts strive to add value and innovate, but also to be recognised and promoted. Business analysts are perfectly placed in an organisation to satisfy all of these, and the way to do this is by focusing on “deep work”. My presentation was based on work by Cal Newport, providing guidelines and examples of how business analysts can focus on “deep work”. Cal Newport says

… shallow work involves “Tasks that almost anyone, with a minimum of training, could accomplish (e-mail replies, logistical planning, and so on).” This work is attractive because it’s easy, which makes us feel productive, and it’s rich in personal interaction, which we enjoy. However, shallow work is not the place where we do our best, most remarkable work.

As Newport explains: “This type of work is ultimately empty. We cannot find real satisfaction in efforts that are easily replicable.” On the flip side,

… deep work consists of “Cognitively demanding activities that leverage our training to generate rare and valuable results, and that push our abilities to continually improve.”

Ash Read says “Deep work is the important stuff. It allows us to improve the quantity of valuable output we produce, allows us to utilise the skills we’ve worked for years to hone, and drives far greater reward in the long term.”

The topic is clearly an area that you are personally passionate about. Why do you feel this subject is relevant and important for the business analysis profession?

Business analysts cover a broad range of work on a business day. A lot of us concentrate on the artefacts as our major deliverables, which can lead business analysts to go through the motions and get very good at the known processes that we need to perform. But by doing that we are missing a beat, if we want

… to become trusted advisors we have to dig down deep and spend time in new, challenging and value adding work or research.

As we spend more deep time in our cognitive state we start to add new insights and knowledge – using our business analysis skillsets – to business problems and opportunities. We can’t continue being just busy. We need to be innovative and add rich insights.

Having shared your ideas with the business analysis community. What key points would you like people to take-away, reflect and act upon?

Business Analysts are well placed to innovate in an organisation – from business model to product innovation – and by becoming a thought leader you can become a trusted advisor. Don’t miss the future, take charge of your own career and carve out your own path.

Gear Up:
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Business analysis summit spoiled in terms of the learning and networking opportunities. What was your greatest personal insight taken from the business analysis conference?

Being a good business analyst is to be a brave business analyst.

Having been a regular speaker at local business analysis events. What words of encouragement do you have for people who may be considering presenting in future?

At the very least attend one BA Summit, and get a feel for the tracks and types of presentations. Read a lot on business analysis, innovation, FinTech etc., and find an article that resonates with you. Then create a presentation around that topic, present it inside your company, get feedback and tweak it. Next run your ideas past the IIBA-SA chapter members – you can find them on social media very easily.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Find something that you are passionate about, my passions are blockchain and virtual currencies. As a business analyst find a nascent technology that relates to your passion and is relevant to your organisation, and become a thought leader in your company. What’s stopping you?

Dive Below The Shallows, Innovate As A Business Analyst with Eugene Etsebeth

Download Eugene Etsebeth‘s slide-deck from BA Summit SA 2016 and find out more about how to Innovate As A Business Analyst. Share with @Etsebeth and @Newbert how you innovate as a business analyst, on Twitter.

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About Joe Newbert

Joe is a consultant, a writer, a speaker and above all a teacher, who spends most of his time at the Business Change Academy helping people to grow their skills, bring meaningful change and see their career soar.

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