When an Agile Analyst is working on the Strategy Horizon for an organization, the purpose is to provide information to decision-makers that relate to organizational goals. This requires a shift in thinking from the analysis performed at other horizons. The shift is partly due to the purpose of the Strategy Horizon, and partly complexities of this early stage. With such complexity, the Agile Analyst needs to have the following in mind.
Breadth of Information
Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide – section 4.3
I think it should be evident that the Strategy Horizon involves a broad spectrum of interests and concerns. The details are often revealed in the other horizons. However, that does not mean this Horizon is not substantive. So let’s look at the areas of concern for the Strategy Horizon.
In the Strategy Horizon, one of the first things needed is communication channels that receive and give appropriate information across the organization. Items discussed in the Strategy Horizon may affect the entire organization either directly or indirectly. Decisions and discussions may or may not involve a specific operation, but they will impact resource allocations and priorities.
Observations about market changes and trends are evaluated to determine changes in product, features, or the importance of a proposal.
From the external environment, technical or competitive advantages or disadvantages may be leveraged or mitigated appropriately. Changes in societal expectations may also affect the product, and it’s design, features, or priority.
Additionally, internal changes may affect the strategy. For example, changes in the leadership’s vision for the organization may move high prioritized items to non-starters.
Even though we are in the Strategy Horizon, the organization assesses impacts based on feedback from both the Initiative and Delivery horizons. The apparent effect is estimations and projections for projects and required resources.
These play a part in fulfilling the intended purpose of the Strategy Horizon – to prepare the organization to counter a threat or capitalize on an opportunity. Those threats and opportunities should be revealed through the items discussed previously.
Maintaining High-Level View of the Information
For those who have been heavily involved in delivery, there’s a shift in how you approach problems in the Strategy Horizon. That shift in thinking affects the level of detail. So, what level of detail should we view at Strategy?
Here are a few considerations:
- We aren’t yet ready to get too deep in the weeds. By that, I mean specific items describing the solution. At the strategy level, we don’t care about defining the solution.
- We are concerned about identifying potential needs. Notice, these are potential needs. They may never be actual needs. An identified risk may never happen, but we need to identify it and think about mitigation against it. An opportunity may be on the verge of appearing, but not quite come to the demand levels or cost levels to make it profitable.
- We are clarifying the need. The solution will be dealt with in the Initiative Horizon. So, all information that tells what we are trying to accomplish, not how to achieve it, begins at the Strategy Horizon.
- The focus is on organizational risks, changing priorities, or other conditions and identifying new needs.
Making the Complex Simple
The ability to take complexity and make it simple is the key to effectiveness as an Analyst on the Strategy Horizon. This ability will likely drive success in the Strategy horizon.
One could ask the question, “What are the indicators which show we need to take action in this area?” Then, “How do we get the information to monitor those indicators?” It sounds like a simple set of questions. But the reality is, there is much uncertainty with the information – especially when it is based on external sources. Add to that, the level of complexity, and the quantities involved.
The Agile Business Analyst will make models to simplify the decision-making process using the information from all relevant sources.