I was at a buffet in a hotel recently and was faced with a wide choice of dishes. Like everybody else at that buffet I was very clear on what I wanted – I wanted a bit of everything. However, when I sat down to a weird mish mash of sweet and sour pork, lasagne, chicken korma, roast beef & gravy, enchiladas, salad, couscous, coleslaw, rice, ratatouille and of course chips, I realised that this wasn’t what I wanted at all. What I actually wanted was a nice meal. If I had taken the time to think about what I really wanted I would have enjoyed my meal much more.
The reality is that our stakeholders are much the same, they will think they know what they want but all too often this does not meet their needs. It is very rare for our stakeholders to fully understand all the systems, processes, techniques, data and insight we have available, or the challenges, limitations and restrictions we need to work around. Unfortunately, this does not stop them trying to define the solution. It is our role as analysts to find out what they really want and find a way to deliver this. To do this we need to employ coaching and questioning techniques.
Let’s think about the buffet example and look at the conversation I should have had with myself.
- Me the analyst: “What would you like?”
- Me the stakeholder: “A bit of everything”
- Me the analyst: “What are you hoping to achieve with this?”
- Me the stakeholder: “A nice meal”
- Me the analyst: “What is your idea of a nice meal?”
- Me the stakeholder: “A balanced mix of food I like, (and chips of course).”
- Me the analyst: “Which of these dishes do you want the most?”
- Me the stakeholder: “I like the look of the enchiladas.”
- Me the analyst: “Other than the chips, what else goes with these?”
- Me the stakeholder: “Rice, Salad, Coleslaw”
We can see how taking a couple of minutes to ask the right questions can ensure we deliver what we really want. Remember, we tend to want the same thing, “The moon on a stick”. The reality is that this isn’t possible and if somebody did deliver this to our desk then it would cause a lot more problems than it solved.
Date Published: 22/09/2017