The “Junto”

For some reason, last week I picked up and began reading from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. In it, he mentions a mutual improvement society that he and several of his acquaintances founded in colonial Philadelphia to compare ideas, to critique each other’s publications, and to gather sociably. They called it “Junto.” The idea behind Junto was that in gathering like-minded individuals with a common cause for civil discourse, all participants stood to benefit.

From Wikipedia:

Franklin organized a group of friends to provide a structured forum for discussion. The group, initially composed of twelve members, called itself the Junto (Latin for meeting). The members of the Junto were drawn from diverse occupations and backgrounds, but they all shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others.

That association drew me to think about our day, and about the field of business analysis. What a wealth of information is available and easily accessible to us today! Through blogs, e-zines, messages forums, professional publications and social and professional networking groups one can learn a great deal about business analysis and the broader use and implementation of technology to solve business problems.

I subscribe to and religiously read dozens of feeds and online articles each day to try to learn new tricks of the trade, make professional contacts, and to generally improve my skill and performance as a business analyst. With time, I’ve noticed that I often gain as much benefit from reading the work of normal, daily business analysis practitioners as I do from the established experts and renowned thought-leaders. For that reason I decided to begin this blog to contribute, perhaps in some small way, to that growing body of knowledge.

Anyway, I’ll wrap up my philosophical interlude now and get to the point of this post.

Add your voice

There are lots of good reasons to add your “voice” to mine and the many others that blog on business analysis, and other related topics. If you’ve learned some hard lessons, have some opinions on what works and what doesn’t, have some tips on how to do things better or more efficiently, etc., etc., then why not share them?

Forgive the following allusion, but I did major in marketing…. As the sample size of ideas on industry best (and worst) practices increases, we all gain a clearer picture of what those practices are. The IIBA is doing a great job of formalizing standards and methods in the business analysis body of knowledge. That said, the BABOK can’t and shouldn’t be expected to address all the aspects of any scenario that a business analyst may face. As I see it (and I’m of the impression that IIBA leadership would agree), industry best practices are not invented by governing bodies, but are proposed, tested and refined through practice and constructive discourse by everyday workers in the field – like myself and many readers of this and similar blogs.

As a single case in point, if you look around on the leading BA community web sites and blogs, you’ll find that a common topic is that of defining what exactly the business analyst is, and what exactly a business analyst does. There are lots of valid and interesting ideas floating around to which I’ve added some of my own. That’s where our modern BA “Junto” comprised of dialogs carried out via blogs, mesage boards, and networking groups comes into play. In my mind, we all have an opportunity to contribute in defining and shaping the role of the business analyst.

I’m not saying we should all go out and buy domains and webspace to set up our own blogs, but that we all find some way to participate. There are lots of resources available. If starting your own blog is not your cup of tea – and it isn’t for everyone – then you can add comments to others’ blog posts. Additionally, there are some great message forums and networking communities and websites in which you can participate and share what you know. See the blogrolls on the sidebar of my front page for just a few ideas.

If you have a new blog or have found a useful site dealing with business analysis or a related field (software development methodology, project management, communication, organizational skills, professionalism, leadership, etc.), and would like folks to know about it, please comment here to add the name of your blog and a brief description. The reach of my blog isn’t yet as espansive as many, but it is growing. I’d also be curious to know about you myself.

Anyway, I don’t anticipate a mass-movement as a result of this one simple (although admittedly long-winded) blog post, but hopefully a few of you will get off the fence and join in the collaborative, online BA community. Here’s to discovering many more valuable business analysis resources and contacts!