I’m in the midst of a two week stretch of conferencing. The week of October 29 – November 2nd I was at the Building Business Capability Conference in Fort Lauderdale. The conference markets itself as 5 different conferences for the price of 1 and even goes to the trouble of creating the concept of five different “forums” or summits:
- Business Rules Forum
- Business Analysis Forum
- Business Process Forum
- Business Architecture Summit
- Business Strategy & Transformation Summit
In reality, it’s all one conference that was formed when members of the business process community and the IIBA joined Ron Ross’ long standing business rules conference to bring discussions of a variety of discovery and analysis activities all into one conference.
Experiences and Examples over Pontificating and Theory
This combination is nice in that it gives people who travel around in different communities a chance to hear different perspectives, but I have to admit I chuckle at the amount of specialization that some people like to hang on to. The business rules and and business process communities both provide great techniques and skills that are very helpful in the broader discovery world, but they are not the only skills you need.
The most value I get from the conference (as with many other conferences I attend) is the opportunity to meet and share ideas with other business analysis practitioners from around the world. Sometimes there is more meeting, fun and frivolity that goes on at the conference, but it helps to establish relationships that I then rely on to share ideas and experiences long after the conference is over.
I did manage to make it to several sessions during the conference and the IIBA will be publishing reports I wrote up three of them in the upcoming weeks. I tended to steer toward the sessions that were based on practical experience rather than theoretical pontificating because I believe the real valuable information comes from actual experiences. Besides, if I hear about a speaker that shared some interesting theoretical ideas that I want to know more about, I can usually track them down outside of the sessions and get a good overview of their ideas in a few minutes, and can ask specific questions to get a feel for how it may be helpful to my situation.
There were a few undercurrents that I picked up throughout the conference that I discuss briefly below. Before I do that, I feel it is important to provide the disclaimer that I realize because of my personal filters I will pick out things that seem to fit with my world view, but I sense that others picked up on these trends as well.
A focus on value was a key talking point in several sessions this year across all the tracks. I think this bodes well for the business analysis community because it signals the shift of focus on analysis as a means to the end of delivering value instead of an end in and of itself.
Context was also a word that was thrown around quite a bit. I think this is also a good sign for the business analysis community because it shows that the idea of the right technique for the right job is becoming more prevalent. There is less emphasis on the quest for silver bullets and more focus on doing the right thing.
The themes of continuous discovery, exploration and refinement began cropping up throughout several presentation and discussions, leading me to believe that although many of the conference are pretty loathe to admit it, the values and principles of agile software development are grabbing hold in all parts of the organization.
I’m excited to hear that the conference will be held in at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas next year and moved away from the last week in October. Missing Halloween is frankly not that big of a deal to me, but it kept many of the people I enjoy talking to away from the conference this year, so I he they’ll be able to make it next year. I’m glad it’s in Vegas because there’s just something about the Sin City that just draws me there, even though I’m not a rabid gambler. Part of it is that the travel expenses should be less.
I’ve shared my thoughts on improvements for next year with some of the organizers, the general ideas included:
- Set up the conference to facilitate more networking such as longer breaks in between sessions
- Attract more sessions based on practical experience, and provide presentation coaching for those presenters who have great stories to tell, but may not have as much experience sharing them with a large group of people.
- Don’t schedule keynotes against other sessions and find keynote speakers that will help start conversations (the opening keynote) and will charge people up to stay connected once the conference is over (closing keynote).
- The entire community needs to loosen up a bit. I get the whole “dress for the job you want” idea, but there’s no reason we have to be so stuffy during the conference. Based on what I’ve observed after the sessions are over, the crowd is certainly capable…
Overall I really enjoyed the time I spent at the BBC conference and would encourage others looking to get expand their network in the business analysis community to attend next year’s conference. I know I am certainly going to try.