Posted June 28th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

Twenty ten has been a big year of change for me.

And in my race to change, to “accomplish” things, and to make meaning, I haven’t slowed down to truly enjoy the present.

And so, as one of my university professors used to say at the end of each lecture, “This seems like a good place to stop.”

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How to Be Awesome At Being A BA

Posted June 3rd, 2010 by Chris Gurney

This post also appears on the Blueprint Blog.

Chances are, if your career has landed you in the role of a business analyst, it was probably by accident.

Even if it wasn’t, I’m willing to make another guess: You’ve probably never received any sort of formal BA training, and you’re wondering if there is even such a thing.

How did I do?

The roles of BAs vary, for the most part, based on the size of the company: Simply put, BAs seem to do more in smaller organizations. But in any sized company, I believe that I have observed some traits that are consistent across the most skillful and, dare I say, awesome BAs that I have had the pleasure of meeting.

So, instead of looking at any methodologies behind business analysis (there’s plenty out there already), in this article I intend to examine those characteristics of the awesome business analyst, and point out some specific tools and resources that I guarantee that you can use to make yourself awesome (or awesomer, as the case may be).

Continue reading How to Be Awesome At Being A BA »

Minimizing Your Travel Footprint

, | Posted May 20th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

If you have to travel for business as much as I have been, and you’re concerned about your carbon footprint as much as I am, you begin to look how you conduct yourself on the road a little differently from everybody else.

When you travel you tend to leave a trail of disposable items behind, from food containers, to styrofoam cups, to magazines, to miniature bottles of shampoo. And then there’s the things you don’t see: The exhaust from your plane, or the energy consumed by your hotel room’s A/C while you’re not in the room.

It all adds up, and what’s worse is that we’re leaving an impact on a place that’s not our home. (Although, strictly speaking, the Earth is our home.)

Lately I’ve done so much traveling that I feel guilty every time I hop on a plane, take a taxi, or rent a car (because the businesses I have to go to are nowhere near urban centers).

So I started to ask: If we have to travel, what can we do to lessen our impact on the world?

Here are my thoughts, and tips:

Continue reading Minimizing Your Travel Footprint »

Minimizing to my Maximum

| Posted April 22nd, 2010 by Chris Gurney

As I continue to recycle, donate, give away, eradicate, eliminate, and trash things, I’m getting closer to that point where I wonder how far I can truly go.

So I asked myself a question, as I tend to do when I’m talking to myself: What is the bare minimum list of physical things that I really, truly need?

The key word, once again, is “need”.

At the same time, though, the word “comfort” comes into my mind.

I think the trick is to redefine what us North Americans think of as “comfortable”, and truly challenge what I think I need, in my day-to-day life. Really, shouldn’t four walls and a roof be enough? (This is probably a post in and of itself.)

And so, allow me to pick apart my daily activities, and propose an approach for living minimally that might work for me. To simplify things, I’ll leave out transient, consumable objects like food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries.

Let’s start with the most cluttered area of my home, and go from there.

Continue reading Minimizing to my Maximum »

A Strategy for Minimizing Your Stuff

| Posted April 13th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

OK, so you’ve decided to clean out your basement, closet, spare bedroom, car, or some other space where stuff has collected.

Where do you begin? And how do you get yourself to actually go through with it?

Here are some things that worked for me:

Continue reading A Strategy for Minimizing Your Stuff »

The Next Three Months (Spring 2010)

, , | Posted April 3rd, 2010 by Chris Gurney

Believe it or not, we’ve just completed the first three months of the year. Given this startling turn of events, I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on my New Year’s resolutions, and make sure that they’re still resolutions worth keeping for the next three months.

First, let’s take a look back at January, February, and March of Twenty Ten.

Continue reading The Next Three Months (Spring 2010) »

Minimizing Acquisitions

, | Posted March 29th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

As I continue to minimize and strive towards a simpler lifestyle, I’ve been putting some thought into how I can control what new physical things come in to my life.

Here are my thoughts:

  • First of all, really determine if the thing you’re looking to acquire is a really a want, or a need. You probably already know what category it falls into, so this shouldn’t take much thought.
  • Put that thing on a 30-day waiting list. I read this trick somewhere, and I like it. If, after thirty days you still think you need the thing, then you probably do. In 30 days, your “wants” will hopefully disappear.
  • Consider borrowing the things you want, first. This includes hitting up your friends for stuff, renting movies instead of buying them, and signing out books from the library. If you borrow something and evaluate that you have a need for your own, personal thing, then your purchase decision will be further justified. For whatever reason, I personally grew up feeling like I had to own everything. I frequently bartered with my brother for things that I could have otherwise borrowed; this behavior became part of who I was, well into adulthood. I eventually realized that this was just plain stupid.
  • Picture what might happen if you had smaller containers for your things. Living in a smaller space really made me question the place for all of the stuff I owned. This forced me to make some tough decisions (at the time) about what to keep. While this opportunity doesn’t happen often, imagine if you had to move tomorrow. What could you get rid of today to make it easier on your future self?
  • Keep a list of the things you buy, and how much you spent on them. (Don’t include regular expenditures, like food.) Review this list when you’re thinking about buying something, to see if those other things you bought that you thought you truly needed at the time are still proving to be a worthy investment.
  • Get moral support. Talk to others who don’t have the thing you want. They may be able to convince you that you don’t need to have that thing that they don’t have, either.
  • If you currently don’t think in terms of acquisitions as costing you money, start to. Every purchase impacts your bottom line, which you could be putting aside for memorable experiences, or other, more worthy investments (your definition of “worthy investment” may vary).
  • Perhaps more importantly, if you currently don’t think in terms of acquisitions as costing the environment, start to. Everything you buy is made from something, and packed in something else.
  • Convince others to stop buying things for you that you don’t need, or give them meaningful alternatives. Here are my thoughts on that.

How do you keep yourself from buying things you don’t need?


Why Minimize?

| Posted March 12th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

There reached a point last year when I realized just how much extra, non-essential baggage I had in my life.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was born. I vowed to minimize: To sell, donate, or otherwise get rid of as much of the extraneous “stuff” in my life as I could.

I started with my storage locker: A collection of boxes and blue bins, together in a cage, mixed in with remnants of my past.

Continue reading Why Minimize? »

The Big Freaking Requirements Document Must Die. Here’s Why.

Posted March 8th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

This article also appears on Business Analyst Times, The Requirements Networking Group, and the Blueprint Blog.

The typical requirements document is a long, sprawling piece of literature. Within it, one might find a title page, table of contents, change history, complex headers and footers, legalese, confidentiality notices, and, if you’re lucky, maybe even requirements.

Its length is probably, primarily due to the fact that it tries to be everything to everybody. But, the problem is that this big freaking document isn’t read entirely by any single person, except perhaps by the person who wrote it in the first place.

Every company refers to these documents as something different: BRDs, PRDs, BPDs, DRDs, SRSs, FRDs… or any other number of acronyms that people have forgotten the meaning of. OMG. To complicate matters, each department, project team… heck, person, uses their own template; so, one BRD does not necessarily equal another. But, who can blame the people who write these things? There are deadlines to be met, and all templates do not accommodate the needs of the many. Adjustments are made.

But luckily, from where I sit, I believe that the typical, mega-honking requirements document is nearing its death. And the good news is that this eventuality is closer than most people think. Don’t believe me? We have actually witnessed this happening at some of the more progressive companies that we’ve worked with.

Let’s walk through the reasons why I think these documents exist, and the problems that lie within.

Continue reading The Big Freaking Requirements Document Must Die. Here’s Why. »

| Posted March 7th, 2010 by Chris Gurney

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