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BA and Beyond 19 - Adrian Reed - Don't bring me solutions Bring me problems


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It sometimes feels like the business world is addicted to “solutions”. Projects are initiated to implement solutions, and teams are mobilised to deliver them. Yet, without a thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity that these ‘solutions’ are aiming to address, can we ever truly know whether we are successful? Throw in a complex stakeholder landscape where different stakeholders have very different perspectives on the problem situation and we have a perfect storm. It is easy to get in an iterative doom-loop where we keep iteratively altering the ‘solution’ but never actually meet the business need…

This can be avoided with robust pre-project problem analysis. In this presentation, you will hear a concise description of a select few practical techniques that can be used to explore and define problems early in the business change lifecycle. With a better understanding of problems, we are much more likely to be able to solve them.

During the presentation you will hear about techniques for:

- Exploring ‘messy’ problem situations
- Understanding different stakeholder perspectives
- Defining what ‘success’ looks like in the context of a problem solving situation

Published in: Business
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BA and Beyond 19 - Adrian Reed - Don't bring me solutions Bring me problems

  1. 1. — #BABeyond19 Adrian Reed Don’t Bring Me Solutions Bring Me Problems !
  2. 2. Don’t Bring Me Solutions Bring Me Problems! Adrian Reed @UKAdrianReed
  3. 3. No clear statement of problem Early “solutioneering” Key stakeholders not engaged/involved early enough Inadequate assessment of situation & data Some of the likely causes… And a lot more!
  4. 4. Topics
  5. 5. What is the ‘Parking Enforcement Service’ for?
  6. 6. PQR Do P by Q in order to contribute to achieving R “A system to__________by__________ in order to contribute to achieving________” Adapted from Checkland
  7. 7. Topics
  8. 8. Problematic Situations Difficulty Mess Terms coined by Ackoff
  9. 9. Rich Picture
  10. 10. The problem of….. Is affecting…. The impact of which is…. A successful solution would…. Problem Statement What problem are we trying to solve? Who are our stakeholders? Why should we care? What are the benefits? How do we know it’s done?
  11. 11. Topics
  12. 12. Problem / OpportunityCustomer Financial Internal processes Innovation “Sustain” Adapted from IIBA (2015)
  13. 13. Summary
  14. 14. • Where in your organisation are your business analysts located ? • How are you adding value? • Where do you think the BA adds most value? • How do we measure that value?
  15. 15. Books by the speaker…
  16. 16. References Checkland Cited in OU (n.d.). Systems practice: Managing sustainability. [online] OpenLearn. Available at: ict/systems-computer/systems-practice-managing-sustainability/content-section-2.4.1 [Accessed 2 Sep 2018]. IIBA (2015) A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) v3, IIBA, Toronto National Audit Office (2011) The failure of the FiReControl project [Online] Available at: National Audit Office (2010) FiReControl Project [Online] Available at: