Different Perspectives on the Business Analysis Mindset

A detailed analysis by Yulia Kosarenko and Fabricio Laguna of how the concept of the business analysis mindset is evolving in the IIBA community.

by Yulia Kosarenko and Fabricio Laguna, originally published in the Business Analysis Magazine (IIBA, BAM, June 2024).

Within the business analysis community, one concept remains a constant source of debate: the business analysis mindset. And for good reason. This elusive concept is the key to unlocking growth and efficiency in your organization.

The business analysis mindset has been the subject of countless discussions in social media posts, podcasts, books, and conferences. Yet
its true meaning remains shrouded in mystery. As with many concepts, its interpretation varies depending on one’s perspective and whether we mean a “business analyst” or “business analysis” mindset. Can these differences ever be reconciled, or must we be satisfied with a loose collection of interpretations?

In this article, we explore the heart of this debate, examining the similarities and differences between three definitions from these sources:

Analyzing the Definitions of the BA Mindset

As business analysis mindset enthusiasts, we decided to apply the same approach to the analysis of these definitions to identify similarities and differences.

As we dissected the ideas from each of the sources, we weren’t surprised to discover many similarities. All three explored applying the discipline of business analysis, albeit from somewhat different perspectives. As practitioners, they had similar ideas about what makes business analysis and enterprise change successful. And since they’re all part of the same community, they were also influenced by each other.

Our initial thesis was that the business analysis mindset was conceived as a solution to a problem. Each of these authors defined the mindset to solve
a different problem.

Yulia’s Original Problem and Solution

Being a successful business analysis professional involves more than following predefined tasks.

Business analysis is both a science and an art. Good business analysis depends on intuition and motivation, on understanding and influencing human interactions along with the use of techniques and a logical structure.

Logical and intuitive side of analysis (from Business Analyst - a profession and a mindset)
Figure: Logical and intuitive side of analysis (from Business Analyst – a profession and a mindset)

When training or coaching business analysis professionals, addressing the less tangible aspects of business analysis is crucial for their professional growth and success.

Problem: How can we train a professional to develop not just the techniques, but also the art of business analysis?

Solution: By defining and applying the principles of the Mindset that highlight both logical and people aspects of business analysis.

In her book, Yulia mainly uses the term “analyst” instead of “analysis” to refer to the mindset. She focuses on individuals in specific organizational roles, helping them develop a mindset that combines problem-solving techniques and logic with motivation and sensitivity to address human issues.

Yulia’s definition:

The business analyst mindset is a way of seeing, thinking, and reasoning that supports a business analyst in doing the best possible job of analyzing and solving business problems. 

For Yulia, the business analyst mindset is unique for every professional. It’s formed during their career and shaped by their experiences. We do expect some common themes in the mindset of successful business analysis professionals. Yulia articulated these as the twelve principles of the business analysis mindset.

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  1. Focus on business – calibrate solutions to business goals
  2. Solve the right problem
  3. Question everything
  4. Lead and facilitate 
  5. Analysis before synthesis; information before requirements
  6. Uncover gaps – do not cover them up
  7. Simplify until nothing can be removed
  8. Take responsibility for a shared understanding of business requirements
  9. Accept and embrace business change
  10. Be part of the solution
  11. Expect human behavior from human beings
  12. Learn, adapt, and thrive

    Once developed, this mindset will not go away even if its owner changes jobs or industries. “Once a business analyst – always a business analyst,” — Yulia says. 

    IIBA’s Original Problem and Solution

    Business analysis can be performed in different approaches depending on each situation. That makes it difficult for some people to understand what connects all those approaches, techniques, processes, and tools.

    A black and white symbol with arrows

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    Figure. Approaches to Your Work presented at the BA Standard (IIBA, 2022)

    Problem: How can we explain that we do different things in different ways while nevertheless always doing business analysis?

    Solution: By presenting business analysis as a human-centric, exploratory, and creative endeavor to create desired outcomes using specific ways of thinking and behaving.

    The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) defines the business analysis mindset as the connection between all business analysis
    professionals, regardless of their job title, methodology, or transformation lifecycle. An open mind and a business analysis mindset may help them decide on the best approach for each situation.

    In the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide, IIBA specifies the principles that represent an agile business analysis perspective:

    1. See the whole;
    2. Think as a customer;
    3. Analyze to determine what is valuable;
    4. Get real using examples;
    5. Understand what is doable;
    6. Stimulate collaboration and continuous improvement; and
    7. Avoid waste.

    In The Business Analysis Standard, IIBA complements the principles with a list of abilities fostered by the business analysis mindset:

    1. Prioritize value delivery;
    2. Empathize with impacted stakeholders;
    3. Collaborate to build allies for change;
    4. Assess context and adapt to realities;
    5. Constantly learn from stakeholders;
    6. Simplify building and sharing of knowledge;
    7. Reflect on feedback and adapt;
    8. Strive to create high-quality outcomes;
    9. Deliver measurable value rapidly.

    To build an internal business analysis capability and become more nimble in the face of change, IIBA encourages every organization to follow these principles.

    To us, the Standard seems to say: “Business analysis is more than a job—it’s an enterprise capability.”

    Fabrício’s Original Problem and Solution

    Business analysis is frequently understood as a role. That creates the misconception that it may be applied only by a restricted group of professionals in some specific methodologies where the role of the business analysis professional is formally recognized.

    As a result, the business analysis discipline is frequently linked exclusively to IT initiatives and limited in scope to those working in software-related requirements management. Professionals in different roles and initiatives often overlook the potential benefits of applying business analysis.

    Problem: How can we present business analysis in an approachable way for a wider audience, outside of its current IT bubble? How can we spread BA practices to more people?

    Solution: By making a clear statement that business analysis isn’t only a role but also a mindset that can be developed by any professional as a critical career and business differentiator.

    Fabricio’s definition:

    The business analysis mindset encompasses attitudes, behaviours, beliefs, emotional tendencies, mental models, and values that drive continuous business improvement, rather than repetitive work.

    Fabrício argues that the business analysis mindset can be developed as a corporate culture shared by all collaborators of an organization. A business analysis professional shouldn’t be a bottleneck for all analysis work. Instead, they should act as an agent who fosters a nimble culture by facilitating and coaching other professionals in their organization to develop this shared mindset.

    The Business Analysis Mindset

    Fabrício introduces the business analysis mindset as a contrast to the task execution mindset, aiming to raise awareness among business audiences about the benefits of investing in business analysis.

    As Fabrício states, “You don’t have to be a business analyst to use business analysis.”

    Task Execution MindsetBusiness Analysis Mindset
    Resistant to changeDriven by growth and continuous   improvement
    Think in a limited way, restricted to silosThink holistically, always considering the big picture
    Pursue department/function successSeek the overall success of the organization and its stakeholders
    Do the things rightDo the right things
    Focus on efficiency and local operational excellencePromote strategic cross-functional collaboration
    No patience for differing opinionsTake responsibility for collaboration and shared understanding
    Sweep problems under the rugExpose gaps as opportunities for improvement
    Two different Mindsets by Fabrício Laguna

    Analyzing the Target Audience

    The definition of the business analysis mindset varies based on the intended audience.

    Yulia wrote her book to educate those who want to excel in business analysis and encourage practitioners to take responsibility for both the technological and non-technological aspects of organizational change.

    To develop a range of organizational capabilities from data analysis to product design, customer service, cyber security, and enterprise architecture, IIBA defined a common language that could be used as a standard for the practice of business analysis by many different roles.

    Fabrício’s message reaches a broad business audience, emphasizing that business analysis extends beyond software development. He encourages all business managers and leaders to embrace its techniques and concepts to make their organizations nimble.

    As the target audience expands, so does the definition of the business analysis mindset. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that this doesn’t indicate a conflict of definitions—rather, it shows natural growth.

    Ultimately, the authors are all on the same side, tailoring messages to the entire organization and encompassing diverse business changes beyond IT projects.

    Analyzing the Similarities in the Definitions of the BA Mindset

    Although these authors initially explored the business analysis mindset to solve different problems, the sources share more similarities than differences.

    Each encompasses some sort of motivation, attitudes, and behavior illustrated in the following model:

    The Business Analysis Mindset Concept Model

    This model reflects the idea that the way we think drives the way we act.

    The business analysis mindset is a specific way of thinking, motivated by outcomes, which relies on a holistic vision to drive analytical and collaborative behavior:

    • The outcomes motivation is presented in the way each author puts the stakeholders’ interests at the center of business analysis activities, focusing efforts exclusively on what is valuable
    • Holistic vision breaks silos and brings awareness for a wider understanding of the context at hand and the enterprise perspective
    • Acting analytically is perceived as a behavior that involves questioning, seeking gaps, and validating hypotheses
    • As a leadership behavior, collaboration unites stakeholders in a shared understanding

    All three sources emphasize key ideas that underscore the importance of these values. These concepts have been tested and validated by numerous business analysis professionals to drive successful organizational changes.


    “Once a business analyst – always a business analyst.” 

    “You don’t have to be a business analyst to use business analysis.”

    “Business analysis is more than a job – it’s an enterprise capability.”

    While spoken from different perspectives, there is no inherent conflict in these statements. In anything, they speak to the multi-dimensional nature of the BA Mindset.

    • A professional in a business analysis position exercises this mindset to provide the most value to their organization
    • A businessperson engaged in planning and executing enterprise change can use this mindset to define the best solution and implement it well
    • An organization that desires to be nimble should foster this mindset to sense and respond to change in a scalable manner

    While each author approaches the mindset from a different angle, their definitions converge on the fundamental principles.

    Given these similarities, this article proposes a new definition for the business analysis mindset that encompasses the core ideas presented by these authors. This new definition emphasizes the importance of thinking, driven by outcomes that combine holistic vision to foster collaborative and analytical behavior.

    By adopting this mindset, professionals can excel in their roles, regardless of their job title, determine the best course of action in each context, and contribute to the success of their organizations.

    About the Autors

    Fabrício Laguna

    Fabrício Laguna, AKA the Brazilian BA, is a business consultant, teacher, professional speaker, and former IIBA Brazil Chapter President.

    Fabrício is the author and producer of videos, articles, classes, lectures, and playful content. He can explain complex things in a simple and easyto-understand way. He has over 25 years of experience working with business analysis, methodology, solution development, systems analysis, project management, business architecture, and systems architecture.

    Yulia Kosarenko

    With more than 15 years of experience as a senior business analyst and business systems analyst, Yulia Kosarenko alternated between IT and business engagements before changing focus to business architecture.

    She holds a degree in Computer Science and Math from the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv, as well as ScrumMaster, Six Sigma, and Pega Business Architect designations, and an Advanced Certificate in Business Analysis from McMaster University. Yulia is the author of Business Analyst: a profession and a mindset.

    Additional Concept Model

    The business analysis mindset definition shows the value of using Business Analysis for any professional or job function: