How Agile Helped a Business Analyst Discover Her True Value: An Interview with Diane Zajac-Woodie


Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Okay, back to the presentation a little bit. If you could make the attendees of your presentation walk away with one tidbit of wisdom, or one prevailing concept, what would that be?

Diane Zajac-Woodie: It's definitely the idea that your value is in the task that you do. I was guilty for many years, thinking my entire worth was completing all the deliverables I had to do, and getting everything done on time. Working with our first agile coach on that first team, really helped me to see that my value isn't in completing this checklist. We work in this industry, that requires us to think for a living. We can't just become, just robots sitting in our desk, doing what someone else tells us to do.

We have to be able to think and collaborate and really work together to get the best solutions. So, it's most definitely a bad idea that your value is not in the task that you do.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Okay and is there anything else you'd like to say to the delegates of Agile Development Conference adn Better Software Conference West 2014 before they attend the conference and, of course, before they attend your presentation?

Diane Zajac-Woodie: Well just the idea to really come with an open mind, be prepared to learn as much as you can, I'm a huge attendee of conferences. I love the agile community, I love talking with people. So have that courage to reach out, whether it's just the person sitting next to you, reaching out to a speaker I know that the best understanding I get of things, or when I am able to discuss those ideas after I've gone to a session.

Definitely challenge people to continue those conversation after they go to sessions.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: All right, well thank you so much. Once again this was Diane Zajac-Woodie and she will be speaking at the the Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West 2014 which is June 1 to June 6. She is given a presentation titled How Agile Helped a Business Analyst Discover Her True Value. Thank you so much Diane.

Diane Zajac-Woodie: Thanks Cameron.


About "How Agile Helped a Business Analyst Discover Her True Value": 
As companies introduce agile practices, the business analyst (BA) role is often left by the wayside. The BA title doesn’t exist in Scrum and other agile implementations, leaving many BAs wondering where—or if—they fit in. But fear not! The skills of a good BA are even more valuable in an agile environment. Diane Zajac-Woodie tells the tale of a  new and struggling agile team, with no formal training, a resistant corporate culture, and unwilling team members. Diane shares how this team benefited from the communication, collaboration, and facilitation skills of an experienced BA. She highlights some specific shifts—using story maps and writing executable requirements, just in time—that BAs can make to help their team’s transition. Embracing their new roles, BAs can encourage team members to cross role boundaries. This leads to new skill acquisition and a more cohesive team, which ultimately lead to higher quality software.


DianeDiane Zajac-Woodie (@agilesquirrel) has spent the last six years redefining the business analyst role as more than a requirements dictator. Through open and honest conversations, Diane guides her business partners toward creative solutions that solve problems and eliminate waste. She shares this same approach with her technical teams, facilitating communication, cooperation, and continuous learning to ensure success. Diane craves knowledge almost as much as chocolate and would make question-asking an Olympic sport. Her recent passion is to free those mired in the status quo even if she has to pull them out one at a time. Diane’s alter ego makes her thoughts transparent on her blog.

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