Depth of knowledge
November 27, 20195 min read

Depth of knowledge

The role of analysts in projects across the world require a set of skills that may resemble a series of professions.

Written by Patrícia Pinto

Once upon a time there was a person called Claire who had a problem to solve. She was not able to solve it by herself and decided to look for help in different ways. She went to the psychologist and spent one hour explaining her problem. The psychologist was just actively listening to Claire without interrupting her, taking notes in his notebook.

It was really important to let her go through everything, so that it was clear what her problem was, and then the psychologist could start asking questions to clarify some unclear points. One session was not enough and the psychologist scheduled different sessions to get all the points cleared out. But for true progress to be made, patience was imperative.

The psychologist was able to keep himself motivated, even when results weren’t immediately apparent. He researched to understand if Claire’s problem was common or if this was the first time. After several sessions the psychologist decided to send her to the doctor.

Claire went to the doctor with the report from the psychologist. The doctor asked some additional questions to get all her symptoms and make the correct diagnosis. After that, he gave Claire the treatment plan and explained it in terms that Claire could understand. Communication may be the most important skill for a doctor, along with attention to detail, confidence, empathy, respectfulness and thoroughness. Claire was not totally satisfied with the result, so she decided to go to an engineer to see if he could help.

The engineer was focused on solving the problem and that means finding new ways to apply existing knowledge – a truly creative process. Claire felt that maybe her problem was not so absurd while talking with the engineer. The engineer started modelling the problem on a whiteboard and explained how the complex problem could be resolved.

To achieve a good solution, more people were involved, both fellow engineers and people with other competencies. The engineer needed to be able to work collaboratively with different types of people at every level, applying skills as varied as verbal communication and appropriate body language, to goal-setting and prioritizing the activities to solve the problem. He needed the character and integrity that induced other people to trust him and rely on him. The problem was overly discussed and a decision was made to move forward with the solution. The engineer said “It is always better to have a wrong decision than no decision. Don’t let others decide for you: you always have the final word!”

The conversation with the engineer was so convincing that Claire decided to go to a writer to put his ideas in words. She searched a writer with a multi-language keyboard and very good language skills and thoroughness (completeness: ensuring the writing matched the idea, did it adequately cover the topic; accuracy: ensuring all the facts used were correct). The people skills were also important as the document was going to be read by different kinds of people and it was important that it would be understandable by everyone.

Another skill that the writer had to succeed at was persistence. There were some open items that were not easily closed, so the writer needed to be persistent with all the participants to get them done in a reasonable time. With the writer’s inputs, Claire understood “she wouldn’t succeed if quitting in the middle of projects.”

The final document was published, but Claire was not fully satisfied. Therefore, she decided to involve a lawyer to negotiate the situation with his scale of justice skills. She involved the lawyer in the situation to get him to use his proper negotiation and conflict resolution skills, to close the situation as quickly as possible. All involved parties were put in a room to walkthrough the final result and get all the parties commitment and approve the way forward.

A performer joined them to turn the presentation more attractive, focusing on the main goals. By speaking confidently with the microphone and with the proper leadership and facilitation skills, he was able to motivate and inspire the other participants to accept the solution.

Everybody left the room but Claire. Relaxed after having the problem sorted out, Claire looked intrigued at Jack’s desk. Why was a notebook, a treatment plan, a whiteboard, a keyboard, a scale and a microphone on his desk?

By looking at the daily work of a single analyst we see similarities with the above specialists. During the analysis of a requirement we always need to first listen to what the business needs (the role of a psychologist) and once they are understood, present the diagnosis (the role of a doctor). After that, design and discuss the solution with other teams – the architects, the developers and the testers –, which is crucial to providing the most viable solution to the client (the role of an engineer).

When the solution is mature enough, it is important to write it down with the proper writing skills (the role of a writer) and then publish it for client approval. When the approval comes, the negotiation skills are important to manage the differences of opinion that sometimes prevent a quick approval of the solution (the role of a lawyer). Finally, to get everyone onboard with the solution, it is important to perform a walkthrough and the facilitation skills are needed to make everyone embrace the solution (the role of a performer).