What is our purpose? Mastering our craft (part 2)

This is the second in my masterclass series that focuses on seven key areas I found helped develop my technique, performance, and delivery. In this post I share my thinking on how we determine our purpose and use that to shape everything we do.

In the other posts I look at what it takes to master a discipline, then how become masters of our relationships, behaviour, professional development, frameworks, service mindset, and ourselves; and then how to develop a personal action plan and goal map that ensures we can progressively master whatever we choose to do.

What is our purpose?

What do we mean when we talk about our purpose?

In this context, we are referring to our calling or our identity as practitioners of our chosen discipline?

We make all our choices and decisions on the basis of how we understand our role, on how we believe we are expected to contribute. If there’s a misalignment between what we do and what our organisation thinks we should be doing, then we are less likely to delivering value, at least to expectations.

Sometimes even our position titles are not commonly understood. For example, the term ‘business analysis’ is still not clearly understood by everyone, and the value that practitioners bring to an organisation is not always recognised.

If we have an industry body that represents our discipline, then we can normally find a broad definition. This, however, is only a starting point. To truly make sense of this, we need to understand it in our own context. We will look at this in two parts: first what the purpose of our function or team is within the organisation, and then our role in that, where we fit in.

Mapping our role

Below is a model for understanding the role that business analysis plays in an organisation. Two axis are shown; the one running top to bottom indicates the ‘height’ at which analysis can be done, from strategic to tactical; while the one running left to right indicates the domain(s) in which analysis can be done, from business-focused to technical-focused. Example types of analysis have been placed in the four corners to illustrate these ranges.

Role Mapping Tool


  1. Draw a shape that covers the space within which you believe your team operates (e.g. like the blue shape shown on the model).
  2. Now in a different colour, or perhaps with a dotted line, draw a second shape that shows the space within which you currently operate (e.g. like the grey dotted-line shape shown on the model).

I have provided a downloadable PDF version of  the role mapping tool so that you can all do this exercise.


Questions to consider

Once you have mapped your team’s role and your own, reflect on the following questions:

  • Are there any differences?
  • Are you inside or outside the scope of the team, or do you cross the line?
  • Are there things your team does that you don’t?
  • What does this mean?

This series is based on the material I developed for a half-day masterclass delivered in May 2012, as part of the third BA Masterclass conference. For the purposes of publishing this as a series, I have tried to broaden it out to be applicable to anything we might do. There will be an ebook to follow that brings this all together.

Walk with me

In this series of masterclass posts, I invite you to share my journey of the steps I have taken to be the best I can be. I too am still learning and exploring, and I invite your feedback and discussion so that we can learn from one another.

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