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Not My Circus, Not My Monkey: Navigating Ownership as a Business Analyst



Monkeys performing in a circus.


Introduction

Recently, while scrolling through social media, I stumbled upon a video that struck a chord with me. In it, a child confidently declared, "Not my circus, not my monkey," signalling her refusal to let things beyond her control dictate her emotions. Instantly, I knew I had found my mantra for 2024. As a business analyst (BA) and just as a person navigating through life, I often find myself getting worked up over issues that aren't within my sphere of influence. Yet, as I shared this newfound philosophy with my colleagues, a spirited debate was ignited regarding the role of ownership in the realm of business analysis.


One colleague astutely observed that my ambition to embrace this motto might be challenged by my tendency to display a strong sense of ownership. And truth be told, they weren't wrong. I do take pride in taking ownership of my work and ensuring that things are done right. But does that make it a bad thing? That's where the debate unfolded among us.


So, where do I stand on this matter?


The Gray Area of Ownership:

As a BA, displaying ownership has its merits. It provides a sense of accountability and fosters a proactive approach to problem-solving. When I take ownership of a project or task, I feel empowered to drive it towards success. However, there's a fine line between healthy ownership and micromanagement.


The Good:

  • Clarity and Direction: Taking ownership of requirement elicitation and analysis ensures that stakeholders are aligned and informed, setting the stage for a smooth project journey.

  • Quality Assurance: By owning the quality assurance process, BAs uphold standards and ensure deliverables meet expectations, enhancing overall project outcomes.

  • Facilitating Communication: Owning communication channels enables BAs to bridge gaps between stakeholders, fostering collaboration and synergy.


The Not-So-Good:

  • Micromanagement: Excessive ownership can lead to micromanagement, stifling creativity and autonomy within the team. It's crucial to strike a balance between guidance and empowerment.

  • Overstepping Boundaries: In environments with designated product owners or project managers, overzealous ownership can lead to friction. Respecting boundaries while still being proactive is key.

  • Tunnel Vision: Too much ownership may result in tunnel vision, hindering adaptability and holistic project understanding. It's essential to maintain perspective and remain open to new insights.


As I reflect on these points, I realize that the debate surrounding ownership isn't about choosing sides but rather about finding equilibrium. Just like the child in the video, there's wisdom in acknowledging what's within our control and what isn't. Embracing a motto like "Not my circus, not my monkey" doesn't mean relinquishing responsibility; rather, it's about channeling our energy effectively and focusing on what truly matters.


In the world of business analysis, there's indeed a time and place for everything. Sometimes, owning the circus is necessary to steer it in the right direction. Other times, knowing when to step back and let the show unfold is equally valuable. It's a delicate dance, but one that ultimately leads to growth and success.


As I embark on this journey with my newfound motto, I'll strive to strike that balance—embracing ownership when it serves the greater good while also recognizing when it's time to release the reins.


I am keen to hear your thoughts a BA community, do you think ownership is necessary, and if so, to what extent?

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