After being interviewed by Laura as a contributor to her book, I thought I should turn the tables and ask her about her new book!
Don’t forget, the early bird discount ends in two days time. If you’re thinking about buying the book, click here to get it now for $40. After Friday, it will return to the normal price of $75.
Here’s the interview:
What first gave you the idea and why were you convinced to take it on?
Collaborator Adriana Beal actually convinced me there was a market for this book. She emailed me with an idea to remarket How to Start a Business Analyst Career as a career-development book for current business analysts. Kathleen Barrett had also said in her review that How to Start a BA Career could help a seasoned analyst build a roadmap to take their career to the next level. Given this, I sensed the content was relevant to a broader audience, but the positioning was not. So Adriana and I started down a path of creating personas describing the pain points of our new potential readers. The personas helped this new challenge seem real to me and I was inspired to start the project.
How did you decide to approach this challenge? Did you change this at any time?
Like all challenges, they are best tackled one day at a time. Adriana and I pulled together an outline and started writing our respective pieces. I created a list of all the writing I needed to do and would tackle 2-3 pieces a week. Somewhere along the way a severe case of scope creep set in. I don’t exactly remember when it happened, but I remembered realizing around springtime that the project that had started as a rewrite had taken a new shape. The content still tied back to our original personas and needs, but through the writing process I discovered a much better way to meet that need. During the last two months I was pretty much working about 20 hours per week on finishing the writing, editing, formatting and planning the launch. With the end in sight, I just put my head down and tried to stay focused on little else but consulting, blogging, and finishing the book.
Why did you decide to split the book into three parts and how do you see this benefitting the reader?
Although Adriana and I started collaborating through a somewhat detailed outline, the final organization emerged toward the end of the editing process. In the final stages of editing, I kept swapping the pieces around as Adriana and I discussed what pieces would be most relevant first, second, third, and so on. While it was still a single guidebook, I had began to split it into 3 sections. As I began to identify worksheets and templates, the entire collection started to seem overwhelming. I needed to break it down in some way to help people approach it in a meaningful way. I also realized that not all of the sections would be immediately relevant to each person. Splitting the book up into three parts enables readers to purchase a part that is most relevant to them instead of having to purchase an entire set all at once.
What lessons did you learn that really resonated that you’d like to share with the blog readers?
Although I have always tended to approach careers as individual concepts, not general ones, I found myself surprised by the diversity within our profession. Each of the over 20 interviewees brought to light some new perspective on the role or a new challenge that was faced and overcome. It was enlightening to hear people share their personal and professional stories about how they had created their careers to-date. While our profession has an “essence” in terms of solving business problems, there is a huge variety in approaches, solutions, and problem-solving techniques.
Each individual I spoke with shared a different career path and had a unique success story. This realization is integrated within The Promotable Business Analyst as there are no clear-cut answers, but instead paths to discover answers given your strengths, propensity for risk, and organizational context.
How would you recommend that the readers use this resource to best effect?
I think readers will get the most out of The Promotable Business Analyst if they use the templates and worksheets provided. We can read about new concepts and ideas, but until we act on that information we haven’t truly assimilated it and it’s not likely to be available to us the next time we need it. The templates and worksheets are designed to help you use the content of the guidebooks to improve your own career situation. They really break down complex decisions and actions so that you can take meaningful steps forward. You’ll get the most out of the book if you take the time to use the worksheets and keep them handy as new challenges come up throughout your career.
Another recommendation I have is to participate actively in the LinkedIn group that will be exclusively available to purchasers of and contributors to The Promotable Business Analyst. Based on their investment in the book, each member of this group will have somewhat of a shared goal. This should make participation much more valuable than in some of the open groups that exist for business analysts. This group will be actively monitored – no spam or irrelevant links allowed. With this structure in place, I’m hoping to encourage deeper discussions and collaboration between career-minded professionals. For each BA who accepts their invitation, I hope this proves to be a great place to find other professionals who shares their career challenge or could be interviewed about a new job responsibility they’d like to incorporate into their role.
Did you enjoy this project?
Very much! I always enjoy a challenge and every part of this book has proved an opportunity to learn something new. I find that my thinking clarifies with writing, so each time I would write a section I would leave the work feeling better prepared to be a mentor and answer questions from other business analysts. The interviews were especially valuable as a way to connect with professionals I might not have otherwise and build relationships that I hope will last for years to come.
What is your next project?
For the next few months I’m going to be cleaning up after the mess I made ignoring other parts of my business while launching this book. There is another phase of the web redesign project that has been on hold and all kinds of pages that need updating. I’m also planning to restructure the resume evaluation service as a job search optimization service so that it better reflects the full value it provides.
I have a few other eBook concepts in the works. One is with a collaborator and I can’t talk much about it yet, but it meets a need that has come up again and again from new business analysts. Also, since we weren’t able to address finding a BA job in The Promotable Business Analyst, I’m thinking a supplemental eBook on that topic might be needed.
Thanks to Laura for providing her time to give some insight into the Promotable Business Analyst.