Continuing professional development. Mastering our craft (part 5)

This is the fifth in the BA master class series of posts, covering seven key areas that helped develop my technique, performance, and delivery.

In this post I share my thinking on how we ensure that we maintain an active and ongoing interest in developing our knowledge, understanding, and skills related to business analysis.

In the other posts I look at what it takes to master a discipline, at mastering our purpose, relationships, behaviour, models and frameworks, service mindset, and ourselves; and how we develop goal plans and a personal goal map to ensure we do progressively master what we choose to do.

Mastering professional development

What do we mean when we talk about professional development?

Professional development is common in many professions and disciplines, and refers to learning attained for personal development and career advancement.

An aside about the meaning of ‘professional’

Many commentators refer to business analysis as a profession. This is incorrect. To be a profession, practitioners have to be licensed to practice by a recognised professional body; a body who also controls entry and accreditation, signs practitioners up to a code of conduct, and insists on continuing professional development to ensure good practice. With the founding of IIBA, business analysis now arguably has some of these attributes, we are unlikely ever to be obliged to be accredited or licensed to practice. We can, of course, still choose to behave professionally.

Why do we bother with professional development?

People participate in professional development for many different reasons, maybe because of an interest in lifelong learning, a desire for professional competence, for career progression, to keep up with new techniques, or to meet professional standards. Those intent on mastering a discipline should look to ongoing or continuing professional development (also known as CPD).

IIBA does have a code of conduct and an expectation of CPD, and for those who have attained the CBAP there is an obligation to complete and report on 20 hours per year to maintain it.

Who controls your professional development?

  • Who pays for you to attend course?
  • Have you ever paid for your own? Would you?
  • Who should be investing in your professional development?

How to own your own professional development

  • Measure your progress: periodically assess your professional development goals (e.g. every 6 months) with measures you’ve set for yourself in your personal goal plans.
  • Take control of your own professional development: keep your own skills and knowledge current; look for free resources; and make a case for courses that require payment.
  • Work with mentors: find and nurture professional mentors; they will often be aware of opportunities for you; and even the act of talking with them counts as CPD too.
  • Make sure the bus is going the right way: don’t stay in your organisation if it lacks the opportunities or culture to support your career progress.

So, what counts as professional development?

It may surprise you to realise the breadth of activities that qualify as CPD, ranging from college degrees to technical courses, conferences, and informal learning opportunities.

Are you bothered?

Having read this, are you bothered about your own professional development? If you are, and you would like to assess how you’re going, then please review the downloadable continuing professional development assessment form. It will help you see whether you are doing enough already, and some ideas for things you can do.

Walk with me

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

IIBA® and CBAP® are registered marks owned by, and used with the express permission of, International Institute of Business Analysis.

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