In aviation, I gather, the mantra ‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’ has been a staple for pilots for many years. I first heard this expression a few years ago, speaking to a fellow BA at a conference who also happened to hold a private pilots licence. According to the FAA website, the mantra provides a useful aid-memoir for the pilot-in-command, particularly in emergency situations:
Aviate: Keep the aircraft in the sky, and keep it under control
Navigate: Monitor location, and navigate to the intended location
Communicate: Speak to others (presumably this would include those outside the cockpit, e.g. air traffic control and also the passengers on board).
When I first heard this mantra, I was struck by its succinctness but also its usefulness—it is a concise shortcut that helps prioritise activities, especially when time is short and when the pressure is on. It also struck me that it is an interesting model through which we could consider a project. But perhaps, for a business and project environment it might need some adaptation…
When carrying out Business Analysis, it is very tempting (and often considered advantageous) to highlight our objectivity. As professionals looking ‘in’ on a business situation we are, it is said, able to see the ‘wood from the trees’ and work with our stakeholders to co-create solutions that they may not have found on their own. Indeed, this is one of the major benefits of business analysis—we bring a fresh perspective, challenge and a range of techniques that help ensure our organisations meet the outcomes that they are desiring. Yet, whilst appropriate detachment and separation is useful, I am beginning to wonder if objectivity has its limits.
We talk a lot in the analysis community about stakeholders—how to identify them, how to engage them and how to understand their perspectives. We might even talk about how to ‘bring people on the journey’, and how to understand the reactions that people have to change. You are probably familiar with at least one theoretical model that charts the typical emotional responses to change (e.g. ‘SARAH’). Yet in talking this way, are we assuming that as practitioners we have no emotions? That, like Spock in Star Trek we somehow experience no sense of fear, excitement, joy or regret?
I am sure we are not trying to imply that at all, but I wonder whether it is useful for us to consider our own emotional ‘state’ more. After all if we are going to engage with a situation, with the stakeholders, doesn’t that involve being engaging?And whilst there are of course techniques that can help with this, if we ignore our own emotional state then we are going to likely find ourselves giving out incongruous messages. Like the customer service agent who says “uhh, yeah, probably”, we risk sounding seem half-committed—and as crucial practitioners who lead-from-the-middle it is so important that we ‘walk the talk’.
A Different Perspective: “Change Changes the Changer Too”