As often happens for me, while researching one thing on the internet I came across something else so interesting I stopped what I was originally doing in order to take in more about the new thing I came across. In this case, I was looking into the technique of “Issue Trees” (this will probably be one of the next few wiki pages) and came across a 2007 McKinsey Staff Paper titled “The McKinsey Approach to Problem Solving”. [Update from March 24, 2019 – It was pointed out that the link to the paper I had no longer worked, and after checking around on Google every other link I tried seems to not work. So at a guess McKinsey has taken steps to remove the paper from the web. Check around online or in your university or corporate library to see if it’s available.]
In those 27 pages I found not some dry discussion of problem solving techniques, but rather some of the best and most concise information on what a Business Analyst should be doing (IMO) that I have ever come across. They might as well have titled the paper, “Business Analyst Work Process – First, Understand the Problem”. The paper includes not just a solid overview and process for defining, analyzing, and solving business problems; but some detailed work artifacts, techniques, and suggestions as well.
I can’t recommend you read this paper enough, and believe that every person working as a Business Analyst (whether that is your title or not) should read it. To entice you to do that a bit, I am going to include some select quotes below: