Never let the customer see into the kitchen. It ruins the magic.

The small differences that make the difference


A few weekends ago, I spent some time catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen for a while.  After spending an enjoyable few hours chatting and drinking coffee, we decided to continue catching up whilst grabbing some food at a local restaurant.  It was a busy Saturday afternoon, and we were worried that the restaurant might be full–but the waiter was extremely helpful and quickly found us a table.  As he seated us he apologised that the table was really near to the kitchen door, and it might be a little noisy.  This didn’t really bother us – we were happy chatting and generally catching up.


Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever sat right next to the kitchen door at a busy restaurant, but it’s quite an interesting experience.  Every time the door opened, I could hear orders being shouted.   The head waiter seemed to be doing an impression of Gordon Ramsey, barking orders across the kitchen which were then relayed by the chef with equal gusto.   I heard everything – how previous customers had received the wrong meals, how table 29 were still waiting for their drinks order—and how one of the other waiting staff just “wasn’t up to the job” in their opinion.   I learned about their booking process, that they hadn’t ordered enough of one particular ingredient and that they were running out of house wine.  I have to say it somewhat spoiled the magic.  A potentially fun experience was made less-then-acceptable by seeing too much of the ‘behind the scenes’ detail.  It would be a bit like seeing a mall worker in a Santa outfit take off his beard and light up a cigarette as he opens the door to a 1980s rusting estate car.  Some things should just be hidden from public view.


It’s not just about kitchens or Santas…

Continue reading Never let the customer see into the kitchen. It ruins the magic.

Tips for forming a CBAP/CCBA study group  

Business person standing in front of black-board with arrows pointing in conflicting directionsIt seems that more and more people are becoming interested in IIBA’s CBAP and CCBA certification.  Many teams combine formal training with self-study to maximise their chances of passing the exam first time.  This is an excellent idea, as forming a CBAP/CCBA Study group can be a great way of  getting people together to share knowledge.  It will help you keep up the momentum as you head towards the exam, and will also provide you with the forum to discuss any queries that you have.  In fact, I was part of a study group and this really helped me feel more confident when sitting my CBAP exam!


The challenge can be knowing how and where to start.  If you’re considering forming and running a study group in your organisation or BA community, you might find the following tips helpful:


How to form a study group

  Continue reading Tips for forming a CBAP/CCBA study group  

Update: White Papers & Conferences

Blue Speech BubblesAs many of you know, I’m enthusiastically believe in the value that good quality Business Analysis can bring, and I love speaking,writing and presenting on this and many other topics! In a break from my normal ‘blog style, I have a few quick updates for you:


1. Some additional (free) white papers

I’ve recently written some white papers for Orbus software.  Two are available for download right now, and more will follow in the coming months.  You can access them for free here:

Currently the following papers are available for download:

I hope you find these useful. Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss the content further.


2. See me speak @ BA Camp, Vienna, Austria 9-10 May 2014:

I’m really excited that I’ve been invited to deliver a keynote presentation at the first ever BA Camp in Vienna.  I’ll be speaking about the importance of promoting the value of business analysis, which is a topic I’m really passionate about.

The team who are organising the conference are so enthusiastic about business analysis, I am certain this is going to be a landmark conference.

You can find out more about the conference here:

Plus, for a limited time if you use the code APRIL15, you’ll get a ticket for just EUR 150 (down from EUR 180).


3. Keynote at PAM Summit, Kraków, Poland, 23-24 June 2014

I’m also really excited to say that I’ve been invited to deliver a keynote address at the Project & Analysis Management Summit in Kraków, Poland.  This well-established conference brings together the complementary disciplines of project management and business analysis to discuss the synergies, challenges and “hot topics” that affect us.

My keynote is entitled “Avoiding the dark, dead-ended rabbit holes: The importance of BA and PM collaboration before a project is initiated.”

You can find out more about the conference here.


4. Still time to see my presentation at Intel BA Web 2014

For those of you that missed Intel BA Web, a virtual event in co-operation with IIBA UK, there is good news.  The presentations were recorded, and you can still access them! If you’d like to see my presentation (or any of the other presenters), take a look here.  It’s completely free, and you can access it from the comfort of your PC:


6. Business Analysis Conference Europe 2014

Ok, Ok, I’m a self-confessed BA geek… but the Business Analysis Conference Europe 2014 really is one of the highlights of my calendar.  I’m really pleased to say I’ll be speaking. My presentation is entitled “The indispensable BA and the surprising truth: You work in sales!”.   If you can make it to London in September, this conference is well worth attending.


7. An idea for a new book…watch this space!

I’m also in the very early stages of working on a new book with three awesome colleagues.  I’m not ready to say too much yet — other than it’ll be on a topic that hasn’t been written about very much at all.  We’re in the final stages of putting out pitch together for a publisher — I’ll keep you posted (and in the meantime, don’t forget to take a look at  Business Analysis & Leadership — which was written by an enthusiastic group of 26 practitioners, including me…).


8. And finally…

Thanks for continuing to read and comment on my blog.  This started as an experiment back in 2009, and it’s grown ever since.  Please feel free to contact me at any time if there’s an article you’d like to see, or even if you’d just like to have a conversation or a coffee.  I could talk about business analysis all day!

And do remember to subscribe — that way you’ll get my blog articles delivered freshly to your inbox as soon as they are written.  And if you’re ever in need of a speaker for your team event, give me a shout.

Have a great day, and I look forward to catching up with you soon.

Kind regards,

Adrian Reed

Adrian Reed
Principal Consultant
Blackmetric Business Solutions

Insight for change: Cultivate your company’s complaints

Acorn sproutingIt’s never a pleasant subject, but chances are whether you work for a small, a mid-size or large company, your organisation probably receives and deals with complaints. Even the most careful and credible of organisations is likely to receive a complaint now and again, and organisations are often (quite rightly) keen to ensure they are resolved well.  In fact, you may well have a specialist team of complaints handlers who carefully pore over each case and ensure that the customer gets a fair outcome.


We often hear complaints referred to as an opportunity.   There’s a school of thought that handling a complaint well can increase customer loyalty.  Whilst this is an important consideration, there is another opportunity for us too.  It’s possible that we could use our complaints and complaints data to inform customer insight. Or, put differently, there could be advantages to using customer complaints as a catalyst for systemic change.  We could use complaints as one element of insight into what works and doesn’t work when we are thinking of kicking off business change initiatives.  On projects, we could use complaints and complaint data to predict potential customer and user needs and requirements by understanding what doesn’t currently work—before we validate this from other sources.  This could be another extremely useful aspect for us to consider when conducting business analysis.


This probably sounds rather abstract, so let me give you an example:

Continue reading Insight for change: Cultivate your company’s complaints