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The Master Channel

The Business Analyst and the Ice Maiden

Disclaimer: this is a summarized version of a session at #BA2018 that was longer, richer and more elaborate. These are just the main takeaways, but I could never do justice to the full talk. For more details, contact the speaker.

This is the story of six courageous women that crossed the Antarctic. At first sight such a story would have nothing to do with business analysis, but you’d be wrong to think that. But first, let’s start with some video…

The “Ice Maidens” are a team of six female army officers that wanted to show it was possible to cross the Antarctic with an all-female team, without outside help. Not to show the men they could do it, but to show the other women, wives, mothers, daughters, … that it was possible. Spoiler — they made it!

They started out with a group of over 200 volunteers for the mission. Through various rounds and challenges they narrowed the group down to just six people. Sophie Montagne was one of those six people.

Now, it is not my goal to recount the entire expedition — check out their blog here to do that: . I do however want to recount the lessons Sophie learned from the expedition:

  1. You have to choose the right leaders. During the training stages, there were two leaders in the team, one with a more autocratic style, and one with a more collaborative, inclusive style. That worked great as long as they were just preparing. Once they landed in Antarctica, the team decided they should have a single leader that could make tough decisions in times of need. They started out with the more autocratic leadership style, but soon found out that did not work very well. They then had the courage to change the leadership. This paid dividends in the end.
  2. You do not have to be the best at something in a group to make a meaningful contribution. Sophie felt like the “intruder” in the group for right up to the start of the expedition in Antarctica, because she was not the best at anything. In the end she got picked precisely because she was good at everything, rather than the best at any one aspect.
  3. When you are in a team, not everyone needs to have the same motivation to reach the same endpoint. At one point in their mission, they needed to bring everyone together because of some frustrations in the group. One of the things they did was to let everyone share their reason for joining. It turned out, everyone had a very different reason, even though everyone was working toward the same goal. There was even one person who said she did not want to share her reason, because her personal goal could no longer be met. They never found out what the goal was, but that was OK, they managed to reach the end of the expedition regardless.
  4. With the right amount of will and courage, you can take on enormous challenges. Sophie was the kind of person sitting with a warm sweater and gloves on at her desk at the office. Inside… Everybody was surprised she entered the competition to be included in the group. Two years later, she went on to conquer the Antarctic.

Seems like enough stuff to think about for BA’s:

  1. Choose the right leaders for your team (def. important for self-managing teams which are all the rage)
  2. Being multi-talented is just as good as being the best (typically BA — multi-talent over single focus)
  3. BA projects are always tough. If they wouldn’t be tough, you would not need business analysis. That is why willpower to see tough projects through to the end is so important.

You can learn more about the expedition here . Definitely also check out their blog at .

Jan Moons

CEO The Master Channel




Stories on analysis, architecture and relentless learning

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Jan Moons

Jan Moons

One of the founders of The Master Labs and The Master Channel — dedicated to providing world class consulting and education services for analysts and architects

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