#001 - A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
🖖 Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Forcing Function - your guide to delivering the right outcomes for your projects and your users.
✍️ Insights: Creating "The Forcing Function".
🤔 Made me think: Where you stand defines what you actually see.
👨💻 Worth checking out: Seth Godin on changing people's minds.
🗒️ And on a personal note: A few thank yous to those who helped me get this newsletter started.
Why "The Forcing Function"?
So, why am I starting a newsletter?
To give back: With all the help and guidance I've been lucky enough to receive through my career as a business analyst, time for me to return the favour. This newsletter is the first step of that journey.
To explore new challenges: As I approach a turning point in my career, it's reminded me to try something different such as writing in public - which I typically avoid!
To sharpen my thinking: Whilst I have collected hundreds of business analysis articles and ideas over the years, they've just been sitting there silently gathering digital dust. Having a weekly slot gives me somewhere specific to share my thoughts which I can improve on with your feedback.
"We only know what we make."
Gimabattista Vico | Philosopher
And, why is it called "The Forcing Function"?
Ever since I graduated in business analysis, it's always been a fun challenge trying to succinctly explain what this concept is and what I do. So much so that it's a standard question I ask in interviews to see how well candidates know their profession.
I'm not going to bore you with the various definitions - which tend to be long, dry, and academic. Instead, I've come to realise that my role on a project is, practically, to be the forcing function to help multiple stakeholders reach a shared reality. This could be on:
What is the fundamental problem that needs to be solved?
What really happens in a business process and, thus, what are the root causes of the inefficiencies?
What business requirements are the most critical and need to be delivered first?
"Most people need some forcing function where they’re forced to fully think things through ... And if they don’t do that, it turns into complacency and laziness. At some point, it turns into arrogance, and it becomes very destructive. And then you stop being effective."
Marc Andreessen | The Knowledge Project Podcast
🤔 Made me think
Where you stand defines what you actually see.
As a keen photographer, one of the key lessons I learnt early on is never to settle on the first shot that you take of a subject. You've got to keep moving around to find that better angle, that better lighting, and that better composition - to get that better shot.
This illustration from Visualize Value encapsulates this idea far better than words can. It's a good reminder to always check for those alternative perspectives when you're doing analysis or interpreting results.
Bonus: here's a video of this idea in action - keep watching to the very end. Thanks for Lynn for sharing this with me.
🧑💻 Worth checking out
Seth Godin on changing people's minds.
As the name itself suggests, business analysis does involve a lot of analysis. But whilst that's necessary, it's not the full picture as the results of that analysis is there to change people's behaviour and choices.
But how do you do that?
What matters isn't just the black/white results but building that genuine empathy and genuine connection with those you're trying to influence.
Seth Godin summarised this challenge well:
“If you want to change people's minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution.”
🗒️ And on a personal note ...
A few thank you notes to those who helped me get this newsletter started.
The idea for this newsletter has been tumbling around in my head for a few years but never felt that it was the right time or I was the right person or if there was anyone interested. So my thanks to a few people who helped get me started - in no particular order:
Winnie from EatSleepDesign who helped me get started on creating a design system for this newsletter and this site.
Louie and Chris from Newsletter Launchpad who lifted the curtain behind how useful newsletters are consistently published, mentored me through getting started, and helped inspire the name of this newsletter.
Nate from Approachable Design both for teaching me Figma (which I will get the hang of - even as a non-designer) and for his Plan The Next newsletter which was a source of inspiration for this newsletter.
Multiple friends and my wife for putting up with my flood of very unscientific A/B testing of what this newsletter should cover and look like. And for their constant support & encouragement in getting this started.
🖖Until next Thursday ...
If you enjoyed this newsletter, let me know with the ♥️ button or add your thoughts and questions in the comments. I read every message.
And, if your friends or colleagues might like this newsletter, do consider forwarding it to them.
For now, thank you so much for reading this week's issue of The Forcing Function and I hope that you have a great day.
PS: Thanks to P for reading drafts of this.