By Awe Oludayo, PMP, CBAP
The Doctor’s face betrayed no emotion as he listened thoughtfully while constantly checking the previous test results on the Computer screen in front of him. He spoke gently, and tried to crack jokes on few occasions. Another battery of tests were recommended (including MRI), and the Doctor recommended that the test be carried out in another location. As plans were being made to go for the recommended tests, I was pulled aside by a relative and got the most shocking news of the year. “From all indications, it is most likely cancer”. My heart sank!
The term “silver lining in a dark cloud” probably has no meaning until one life-changing event. While it is so easy to learn from other people’s experience; it is so critical to draw valuable lessons from happenings to self. While a few of us may have control over the shape and turnings of life, it is common knowledge that everybody can determine the final outcome of a situation by how we react to unexpected (and usually unpalatable) events.
The year started on a great note; I was looking forward to many things. Of note among them being the farm (on the outskirt of the city), and the CBAP Certification Paper Based Testing (the first of its kind in the world). Many of the candidates went through our training program, including my wife (who has been preparing for the exam for almost one year). I was intrigued by the prospects of increasing the number of CBAP certification holders in Nigeria, I knew it was difficult for every candidate to pass but I was hopeful majority will scale through. The exam day passed with little drama, and I was back to my base awaiting the release of the results.
The Phone Call
I was out visiting with my Wife, when I got a disturbing phone call; a very close family member (let me give the name “Ruf” to this family member) has lost the use of his two legs. Immediately, my mind went into over-drive, trying hard to make sense of the news. I excused myself and went over to see things for myself.
“Ruf” had been undergoing treatment for a “not too serious & fairly common condition”, only to discover that he was being treated (few weeks earlier) based on wrong diagnosis. Naturally we assumed that “Ruf” inability to walk may have been caused by the wrong treatment ( “Ruf” received 26 injections during the course of this wrong treatment!), but that line of thought was shattered by the event relayed in the prologue. It took two days to get the test result, and the Doctor’s hunch was confirmed. It was cancer and it had spread to the spine!
The 1st Lesson: Assumption is cheap but its consequence can be expensive
The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK V2) defines assumption as “any unsubstantiated fact”, a fact (or knowledge) that is yet to be put to the rigor of a test to determine its veracity. Assumptions can turn out to be right or wrong, however, basing a decision on assumptions alone is tantamount to gambling. Where an analyst must make decision based on assumptions alone, a proper risk analysis must be conducted to determine what will happen if the assumptions turn out to be false.
It is bad enough that “Ruf” has been put through weeks of treatments based on some Doctors assumption. We were almost giving in to the assumption that “Ruf” inability to walk was due to the wrong treatment before the MRI test stated otherwise!
The 2nd Lesson: A superb Team will triumph a Super-star
One of the first things I had to do is to deal with my fears; fear incapacitates and blurs our vision to the possibilities that exists. Fear makes failure and defeat look imminent and victory like a long-shot. I know medical research will not be of help, so I turned to my faith to deal with fear. Though it took me a while, but I know everything will be alright once I dealt with my fears.
As soon as we got the test result, we schedule an appointment with another Doctor (a brain-surgeon). From our interaction with him, it became very obvious that he is an outstanding personality who is well vast in his chosen profession, but same cannot be said of the nurses and support staff., while certain aspects of their services were manageable, the overall service left much to be desired and with this, it did not take the family long to decide to move “Ruf” out of the place.
I will rather have a great team comprising of average individuals) than have a team comprising of a super-star in the midst of a sub-par team. While I have nothing against a super-star (the corporate world’s celebrity), I am also aware of their limitation without a great team to work with.
A superb team is one that is aware of its constraints, yet gives no room to fear; carrying out their tasks without the fear of failure looming over them as the fear of failure is worse than failure itself!
The 3rd Lesson: You don’t know how much you know until you sleep over a situation
The next step in “Ruf’s” treatment spanned almost a month. This included surgery, hospital admission, another MRI test and lots of healing messages. I was practically sleeping over at the hospital almost every other day meaning taking time off work and many other things. During this period, I realized that the hospital takes on a new look and “mien” in the night when there are fewer people around. It suddenly occurred to me that there will always be a gap in what I know about any enterprise unless I see such enterprise in their “night mode”, strangely, majority of analysis are conducted during the “day mode”.
Sleeping in the hospital over a period of time means there was ample time to see the support staff (the cleaners, nurses, etc) in a new light and it became obvious that without their services the whole infrastructure will collapse.
Concluding a phase
“Ruf” was eventually discharged and is on the way to full recovery (defiling medical research and even some Doctors’ opinions). Some experiences are surreal and difficult for others to fully comprehend. Looking back at the first 3 months of 2016, it was a wonderful opportunity to see the world from another perspective and attain a very high level of self-discovery
Challenges have a way of making you stronger and placing you on a higher pedestal, I believe that is what the term “silver lining in a cloud” is all about.
Oludayo is currently the President, International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) Nigeria Chapter & also a Member IIBA Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Regional Board