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You Need an Attitude Like This

Now this is what you call a great attitude. This young american football player brings some serious motivational speak to his interview, blowing away the two presenters, leaving us all motivated.

“Go meet my Mom and you’ll know who I am…”:

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The Balanced Scorecard is Kinda Big Headed

So, you might have guessed it, but I really like the Balanced Scorecard as a strategic performance management tool. It makes a lot of sense to me, but I would add one more thing to it and that would be to add another perspective called, ‘External Environment’. The question the perspective would ask the Manager here is, “In order to be successful, what external forces do we need to respond to?”

The BSC generally takes a holistic approach to strategic performance management, but the it’s all very inwards looking. I get it; we’re monitoring internal performance. But that’s working with the assumption that internal forces are the only ones that matter and we all know that, that is wrong.

What do you think? It was just a thought that came in to my head.

Read more at my new Balanced Scorecard Information Hub here: www.what-is-balanced-scorecard.com. I’ll be updating and adding loads more information as time goes on, so hopefully this will be a great resource to all those interested in the Balanced Scorecard.

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Gathering Stakeholder Perspectives for Analysis

CATWOE

Ever wished there was a tool or framework that would help you to gather details on project stakeholders thoughts and perspectives on where a project or system should go in terms or direction or where it should be focused? Well, here’s some good news; there is one; it’s called the CATWOE framework. ‘CATWOE’ is a good methodology/framework to help get a good understanding on what peoples priorities, values, opinions, beliefs are on a system change, addition or closure. The framework frames their perspective, who, from their perspective, the customer is, owner is and who should be involved. This information comes in handy when reviewing and analysing what kind of need a system should fulfill – you will have detailed information on stakeholders thinking behind the project and its objectives.

The CATWOE methodology was developed by Peter Checkland and was a part of his Soft Systems research; a research study that seems to have been going on for a long time, trying to deal with and manage issues and problems that may lack proper, formal problem definition.

Findings from the analysis is typically used to synthesise with findings from other stakeholders or gather the needs of the key stakeholder that are responsible for setting the objectives of the system.

The framework is a good one and equips you with the tools to gain a good understanding on why a stakeholder of a potential system might want it a certain way and why another may want it another way. CATWOE will also give you good understanding of where the general consensus lies for the system; where the conflicts are; where overlapping occurs and more. The ‘CATWOE’ acronym is as follows:

  • Customer
  • Actor(s)
  • Transformation
  • World View
  • Owner
  • Environment

NOTE: The reason it is presented as ‘CATWOE’ is so it is pronounceable. The proper format of the framework is as below. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it in this way; you can do it however you want! This methodology is a guideline because it is simply, logical. 

  1. World View
    • Here is where you ask the stakeholder why the new system is needed or why it should be changed; you could ask questions like; ‘in your opinion, why…”; “what made you come to that conclusion…”.
    • It is important to remain tactful, a good listener and a good listener at this point; as the more information you have, the better off you are.
    • An answer might be something as simple as, ‘market research has shown there’s a growing demand for plimsole type footwear at cheap prices’
  2. Transformation
    • Transformation is concerned with what process is to be transformed – changed or created.
    • This would typically be in response to the world view and thus comes consecutively
    • Could be something as simple as, ‘sell plimsole type footwear at cheap prices’
  3. Customer
    • Who is the customer that is affected by the process or system change?
    • In the context of our scenario, it would be a consumer wanting to buy plimsole type footwear at cheap prices
    • There may be scope to go in to further detail that might incorporate any analysis the stakeholder has done related to the market
  4. Actor(s)
    • ‘Actor’ is concerned with who will be involved in the process and who will perform the transformation
    • This cold be someone along the lines of in-house footwear designers, sales staff, marketing staff and store managers
  5. Owner
    • Who has authority to close this bad mama jama system?
    • Typically the commissioning authority; project board or board of directors
    • If the owner of the system is the retail department; the retail director may have authority to further change, stop or close down the system
  6. Environment
    • What’s the environment like in which the business system operates? 
    • A good framework to use for this is ‘PESTLE‘, which looks at the macro-economic forces at play, that may potentially have an impact on your system
    • It may even be worth considering some of the internal business processes related to system implementation; items related to the scope of actual implementation, constraints of doing so, any assumptions that are made and what risks there may be. A good framework for this is the ‘BOSCARD‘ framework – the ‘B’ stands for background for a little context; the ‘O’ stands for objective; the objective in this context would be to implement the new system and ‘D’ is deliverables.

So this exercise is what one would typically conduct with project related stakeholders, in order to gather information on where they think the system should go in terms of direction and focus. There is no reason why this framework cannot be used informally. I use it a lot in my day-to-day life when trying to understand reasoning behind decisions.

The CATWOE analysis can then be translated in to a business activity model (BAM), which is a conceptual model of the system as envisaged or imagined by the stakeholder, that was interviewed. You will notice that, for the most part, the CATWOE analysis is simply common sense. You probably already ask the questions and consider the environment etc. All this framework does is add a little structure to that process. Have fun.

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Balanced Scorecard In Detail

So, in this post, we will be expanding on one of my previous posts on the Balanced Scorecard.

bsc

You will remember that there are four scorecards.
What you might not remember is that there are four headings under each scorecards, which help you to correctly frame what you are trying to achieve; they are:

  • Objectives

  • Measures

  • Targets

  • Initiatives

Now these headings are useful because they help you to correctly structure items within the scorecard, instead of leaving it as some abstract, arbitrary vision, with no real way to track its performance. So for example, if you were reviewing a scorecard and adding an objective, you would need the following information:

An Objective:
This is the objective that wants to be achieved by the company, division or person that would be in line with overall company objectives or life plan.

A Measure:
The measurements that would be used to measure the progress of achievement to the new objective.

A Target:
The targets you want to achieve e.g. +3% within three years. These targets can be either quantitative or qualitative, but must be measurable.

An Initiatives:
The actions to be initiated to achieve the objectives and related targets.

An example of the above is:

Objective:
Achieve 5% growth in sales over the next three years

Measures:
Percentage increase in Turnover

Targets:
Year 1: 1% Growth in  Turnover

Year 2: 2% Growth in  Turnover
Year 3: 2% Growth in  Turnover

Initiatives:
– Conduct market segmentation exercise

– Review and revise Marketing strategy
– Conduct quality questionnaire in to customer satisfaction
– Incorporate appropriate response to questionnaires via training update
– Train all team members on quality customer service

I did start breaking down the relationships between ‘objective’, ‘measures’, ‘targets’ and ‘initiatives’ e.g. how many targets you can have per objective etc, but the simplest way to put is that one objective can have many measures, targets and initiatives that work towards achieving that one objective. Each objective should have it’s own measures, targets and initiatives. You cannot have two or more objectives in one, as each objective requires it’s own measures, targets and initiatives.

What is useful to remember is that despite the Balanced Scorecard being a tool for business, it can also be applied to something in your life, for example, booking that dream holiday to Milton Keynes or Hull in the UK – this could be your objective right? You will then have the measures to measure you’re on track to achieving your holiday, which could be the money in your bank account; targets to meet to make sure you achieve the objective at the right time, which could be something like have £150 in three months and another £200 in the subsequent three months and your initiatives on how you’re going achieve that objective, like cancelling that gym membership 😉 (your welcome).

Hope this was helpful.

Naj Hassan wrote this article. Naj is a full-time Dad; full-part-time Blogger; full-time Analyst; part-part-time Composer and part-full-time Investor and property problem solver.

– Leicester Property Buyers
 Leicester Car Buyers
– Naj Hassan LinkedIn
– Naj Hassan YouTube
– naj.hassan01(at)gmail.com

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Blog Videos

Honda: The Power of Dreams

Great advertisement by, Honda.

“Let’s see what curiosity can do…”

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The Business Analysis Process: 3. Analysing Needs

So you’ve now done your perspective analysis and have documented stakeholder perspectives in to relevant diagrams, such as the Business Activity Model (BAM). The BAM is basically the model outlining and describing the system as it is envisaged by the stakeholder, based on their CATWOE analysis.

Once you have reviewed all BAM’s, including the CCCRUTT, which are Conflicts; (In)Consistencies; (lack of)Clarity; Relevance; Uniformity; Testability and Traceability and you have come to a final conclusion on what is important to the stakeholders and what items take precedence over others, in order to meet the goals of the project, divisions and wider company’s objectives, you can finalise you BAM.

So the next step is to create what’s called the ‘Gap Analysis’, which is basically an analysis of the needs of the division, department, product etc.

Okay, right, so with the BAM in your right hand, the process for creating your gap analysis/needs analysis is as follows:

  1. Review BAM to see how each activity is supported by systems and the resources available
  2. Identify activities that may benefit from reviewing and change
  3. Priorities activities based on the following: Time, Cost, Quality, Risk – the one that has the highest ratings for all four, will be higher up on the priority list for addressing
  4. Once you have determined your activities that need addressing, you will need to model ‘as is’ business process maps; I would use swim lane process maps because they present more data.
  5. Next, create ‘to be’ process maps based on your BAM, again in swimlane format
  6. Analyse the gaps between both process maps and
  7. Document a list of potential solutions that would work towards reducing the above variables (time, cost, quality and risk).

The next step includes analysing the defined options, using a range of techniques from cost-benefit analysis, risk analysis, heptalysis investment appraisal techniques to any other tool that would allow you to effectively appraise an option.

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The Business Analysis Process: 2. Considering Perspectives

You’ve now completed step 1 and you’ve now got a good understanding of the situation and are ready to progress your business analysis activities. The second activity within the business analysis process is to consider the perspectives of your stakeholders.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find out who your stakeholders are. You can typically do or should have done this this by gathering details on the situation, from the first activity within the process. With this information you can then decide how to manage your stakeholders by conducting stakeholder analysis. A good way to do this is by using the power-interest matrix; the power-interest matrix will give you a framework for management.
  2. Once you have considered who your stakeholders are, it would be important to conduct the CATWOE analysis to understand what the stakeholders thoughts, feelings and values are with relation to the system/process addition/update/closure. The CATWOE analysis gives the analyst good details on the system from the users perspective; it takes in to consideration, why the stakeholder thinks the system should be implemented, what the definition of the system is, who the customer is, who plays a part within the system implementation, the owner and the environmental factors that need to be considered in which the proposed system will sit. You will conduct the CATWOE analysis with your stakeholders that you have identified as value-adding.
  3. Each perspective that you gather from a stakeholder, would be documented in a business activity model that outlines the main activities within the system, from the individual stakeholder’s perspective.
  4. Once you have gathered the above details and produced the business activity models, the next step is to determine one unified business activity model that synthesises all business activity models gathered. Now, naturally it may not be possible to create a synthesised model that incorporates every single requirement of all stakeholders. BA’s must recognise that stakeholder play a part in systems development because they have good context and understanding of user requirements; naturally people will have different opinions, however it is up to the BA to understand which activities within the documented business activity models that add most value, while meeting each stakeholders requirements. Often negotiations will need to take place, as it may not always ben feasible to deliver all requirements as outlined by the stakeholders. The way negotiation facilitation is highly personal and for that reason I won’t discuss this much.
  5. Compile all information gathered and document all of the details including the business activity models for reference, if required.

This will then take you on the next stage of analysing the needs within that one business activity model that you have now created, amalgamating most, if not all of the activities outlined in all stakeholder business activity models.

The Business Analysis Process: 3. Analysing Needs

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Blog Videos

Are You A Leader or Manager? Here’s Your Answer

The difference between a Manager and Leader

  • Managers make the rules; Leaders break the rules
  • Managers execute culture; Leaders shape culture
  • Managers avoid conflict; Leaders know there’s no movement without conflict
  • Managers take credit; Leaders give credit
  • Managers make decision; Leaders facilitate decisions, encourage buy-in in a healthy way
  • When it comes to vision; Managers tell and Leaders sell
  • Managers are transactional; Leaders are transformational

SELF ASSESSMENT

Ask yourself:
If my position, title, role or formal authority, were removed; would the people that i’m leading, still gladly follow me?

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”

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The Business Analysis Process: 1. Investigating a Situation

One of the Analyst’s key activities will be to understand the context/situation in which a project sits, in order to gain a better understanding of what implications and impact the project will have. The analyst is responsible for gathering all requirements of the project that are (a) relevant to the project and (b) meet the deliverables of the project, which could typically be defined by any or all of the stakeholders ranging from, shareholders, employees to customers. The requirements document will then form the basis of the project.

In order to create a  requirements catalogue for the project, a couple of activities within the process need to be conducted; the first of which is:

1. Investigating a Situation

This is the stage in which you gather high level information about the problem, issue or gap that needs addressing. This data is important because it will provide a good reference point on which to build upon. The situation will contextualise the problem and the potential solution’s practical application within the business.

This can typically done through gathering details on the following:

Context:

  • Speaking with stakeholders on the issues, gaps, problems they are facing, that the project will help  to achieve
  • Consider company strategy and strategic objectives
  • Consider the Project Initiation documentation (if there is one) to gather further details on who the stakeholders are, who will be using the system, risks, costs controls, business case 
  • Consider the terms of reference (if there is one) which will provide details on Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Authority and Resources (OSCAR)
  • Stakeholder analysis

Input:

  • Understand documentation that is related to the project
  • Review process maps
  • Review non-documented processes with actors
  • Speak with relevant stakeholders

Output:

At this point it is worth considering what problems, issues, gaps etc the output is facing. You might want to refer to the following to gain a better understanding of this.

  • Quality control documentation
  • Issues Log
  • Complaints received
  • Performance management reports; KPI’s etc
  • Speaking with relevant stakeholders

Techniques:

Some of the techniques you might use to gather the above information are:

  • Interviews
  • Workshops
  • Activity Sampling
  • Document Analysis
  • Updating/creating draft Business Needs Log

This above gathered information can be documented under the following headings:

  • Summary of information gathered
  • Data gathered
  • Draft business needs
  • Draft world view 
  • Mind maps
  • Use case (as-is)
  • Rich picture diagrams
  • Create a draft business needs log, documenting the high level business requirements based on the stakeholders you have spoken with; this may need revising based on subsequent activities
  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Knowledge on structure, management, policy and change processes
  • Any other details that may come in handy for later stages to help support with questions, interviews, workshops analysis etc
  • The input vs output analysis would be equip you to create a draft gap analysis

With the above information you would be able to document the very high level requirements you will be able to review for the compilation of your business needs log and consider when doing further analysis; you may alternatively encapsulate gathered thoughts, comments etc in to a general “world” view. You will also have good information on the organisational structure, divisions, policies, strategy and more to have a better understanding of the process of change and management within the company when doing further analysis, which is always useful, for context.

And there you have it; you’re now ready to move on to your second activity; considering the perspectives of your stakeholders. The next stage is concerned with analysing stakeholders and their perspectives on the situation/project, to get a better understanding of their values and beliefs for the project. 

The end result of the complete business analysis process will be a clear, non-ambiguous, relevant, reasonable and testable requirements document. The document will take the company’s internal structure, management and policies in to consideration, meeting all relevant requirements and deliverables of the project and your stakeholders, hopefully getting them to buy you a drink at the end of it. Or in my case a can of Dr Pepper; I love that stuff.

The Business Analysis Process: 2. Considering Perspectives

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Blog Quotes

Watch your thoughts, for they become you

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
[What we think, we become.]”

–  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was just watching the Iron Lady and was fascinated by this quote. The quote features in the Iron Lady @ 51 mins in. The film itself is riveting too; Meryl Streep has done a great job.

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Blog Downloads

DOWNLOAD: Now This Is How You Manage Your Time

I was on the search for better ways to manage my time the other day. I read about the Eisenhower Matrix in this book. President Eisenhower was admired for his time management skills.

I liked it, so I created a tool based on the matrix; the tool allows me to better manage my time incorporating dates, the below quadrants, notes and more. You can sort items by quadrant, date, requested by and more. I now use it for work, business and personal life – I have three tabs at the bottom of the same sheet for all different things and I tell you, it’s made a difference.

My tool named, ‘Eisenhower Time Management Tool’ can be downloaded Here.

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Blog Videos

Public Speaking Done Right

Whatever your feelings about Obama, he delivers a great performance.

  • “I’ve won some fights, but I’ve also lost some fights…”
  • “All men are created equal. JUST WORDS? We have nothing to fear but fear itself. JUST WORDS? JUST SPEECHES?”
  • “Don’t tell me words don’t matter. Don’t tell me ideals and inspiration don’t matter. Don’t tell me hope doesn’t matter…”

Great speech.

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Blog Words

A Word You Should Know: Ancillary

Ancillary [ænˈsɪlərɪ]

adj

1. subsidiary
2. auxiliary; supplementary
n pl -laries

 

Providing necessary support to the primary activities or operation of an organisation, institution, industry, or system.

 

“I referred to ancilliary support services for support in unlocking my [Dad’s] iPad.”

Naj Hassan wrote this article. Naj is a full-time Dad; full-part-time Blogger; full-time Analyst; part-part-time Composer and part-full-time Investor and property problem solver.

– Leicester Property Buyers
– Naj Hassan LinkedIn
– Naj Hassan YouTube
– naj.hassan01(at)gmail.com

 

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Here’s why you should switch off sometimes

Is not ‘switching off’ after work a good or bad thing? And will it affect my health?

I’ve noticed that more and more nowadays, I am constantly busy doing something – this is usually something of value of course to myself or the people around me. Now this could be working on a side project at home, such as the family business which allows me to dip in and out based on the business requirements at the time, or I might be reading up on a topic that may be relevant to something that I have an interest in either personally or for work purposes. Conversely, if i’m not doing any of the above, i’m thinking about stuff and/or reflecting. I simply keep the mind active, doing something. And what I mean by ‘switching off’ is basically doing an activity that allows your brain to recharge. This could be watching TV, reading a book, yoga etc.

After a bit of research, I came across two personality types that you have probably heard of, namely, personality Type A and personality Type B. This is basically a theory mind you that was hypothesised by two Cardiologists (not Psychologists or Neuroscientists), Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman. They talked about the two most common personality types among humans, Type A and Type B personalities and the break down is as follows:

Type A:
Ambitious, rigidly organised, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management.

Type B:
Work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing and either enjoy the game or back down. They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts. They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds.

But from the above traits, which is the general consensus based on other sources looked at, you can guess which personality type I think I generally fit in to (type A). I say generally because, I don’t think I tick all of the boxes for Type A’s traits. I reflect and think a lot, i’m not always in a hurry, I don’t have road rage, I enjoy exploring ideas and concepts; I trained as an Architect after all and that’s what their job is! Maybe i’m a type C or A-B?

Although you can’t necessarily say one is better than the other, as they both have their own merits, what you can say however is that, each personality type has repercussions just as everything else does in this world. These repercussions you should take more notice of, because they could prove to be serious if not considered. An article on the Daily Mail (2012) website writes that;

“It found that having a ‘type A personality’ […] could raise the risk of stroke as much as smoking.”

While an article on the US News (2010) website wrote that;

“Personality traits play a distinct role in determining how healthy we are, psychologists say. “Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style…”

It’s clear that personality type can have a direct effect on your health and I agree with that. Where I work, at New Horizons, the health team always say, “there is no health without mental health”, and indeed this is probably true, based on statistics related to stress related health problems, anxiety and other mental health related problems.

However apparent the results of personalities may be, conversely, an article on the HeartHealthyWomen (no date) site writes;

“While some earlier studies suggested that type A personality doubled your risk of heart disease and made you 5 times more likely to have a recurrent heart attack, other studies have found no association between type A personality and heart disease risk. It is now thought that the component of type A behaviour that is in some way bad for your heart is hostility.”

So my advice would be this; work hard and achieve what you want. Think all you want and indeed reflect all you want. BUT. Make some time for yourself to recharge and revitalise your mind. Our minds are muscles that need exercise of course, but at the same time, they require rest too. So sometimes, just take it easy.

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Steve Spoke Some Sense

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs

That life your living is for someone else. Not you.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary” — Steve Jobs

This takes courage.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”  — Steve Jobs

We are products of our past.

“Remembering that i’ll be dead soon is the most important tool i’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life… Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” — Steve Jobs

Only if we did think like this, we would achieve things in life we don’t even dream of.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs int eh square holes.” — Steve Jobs

There’s value in being different. They achieve non-conventional things – things that make the world go, wow.

Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we life for a brief instant, and we die. It’s happening for a long time. — Steve Jobs

Time is short.

“I want to believe in an afterlife, that when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear. The wisdom you’ve accumulated somehow it lives on.” — Steve Jobs

Otherwise what’s the point?

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” — Steve Jobs

Let’s do it. From today.

Naj Hassan wrote this article. Naj is a full-time Dad; full-part-time Blogger; full-time Analyst; part-part-time Composer and part-full-time Investor and property problem solver.

– Leicester Property Buyers
– Naj Hassan LinkedIn
– Naj Hassan YouTube
– naj.hassan01(at)gmail.com