Business Analysis begins with ‘Why’

One of the most important (and favourite) questions a BA asks is ‘why’.question

Asking the question, ‘why’, if done repeatedly, will get to the core of an issue.

It strips away all the distractions and noise to explore the underlying purpose or motivation behind a request, action or even existence of a thing.

We generally think of BAs asking why in the context of an elicitation session. But BAs need to ask the global why of their organizations to truly understand the underlying need or requirement.

One of my favourite and oft referenced books is Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek. Simon explains that inspired organizations, regardless of their size or industry, start with their “why”. You need to understand why your company exists, why your customers do business with you to understand why they keep coming back. Repeat business is not about the products or services you provide. According to Simon, customers do business with you because they believe what you believe.

So what does that mean? Is the why the vision of an organization? Sometimes, but not necessarily. In most cases, the best way to get to the why is to understand the reason behind the creation of the organization.

I just recently finished reading the biography of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs seemed to understand this explicitly and it drove everything he did and created at Apple. Apple’s why is to create beautifully elegant, sophisticated, yet simple tools for consumers. People don’t buy Apple products because they are cheap or compatible with other equipment. Apple is the most valuable company in the world because its devotees will pay a premium to be part of the Apple why.

Another great example of a company that focused on its why is Southwest Airlines. Even though it is a low cost carrier, Southwest has enjoyed forty years of profitability while other airlines have gone bankrupt and/or disappeared. Why? Because Southwest lived its why.

Southwest originated as an intra-state carrier, offering a fast, convenient alternative to cars and buses. When airline deregulation occurred in the late 1970’s, it was able to expand its reach even further, offering low cost air transportation across many more markets. But cheap doesn’t necessarily mean successful. Southwest applied its why in everything it did: standardizing on one type of plane, eliminating prepared food on flights, and improving the utilization of its fleet.

Asking ‘why’ can be difficult as it can often put stakeholders on the defensive but an effective BA knows how to get to the why indirectly. Remember: understanding ‘why’ will ensure you, your sponsor and other stakeholders can deliver the best solution for the organization.

Have something to Add? (Choose a platform below)

Speak Your Mind

Loading Facebook Comments ...