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How to Benefit From the Opposition

The pitfall of striving for consensus

The goals of business analysis are:

Now, let’s address something more controversial — listening to the opposition, and considering the point of view of hostile stakeholders.

As you initiate business analysis activities, you will encounter both supporters and naysayers. Some stakeholders will be excited about the new project and willing to spend all the time in the world with you working on requirements and proposing ideas for a solution.

Those are the people and groups that expect the most benefit from the solution:

Ultimately, the most ardent project supporters will be those who count on its success to increase their influence and fuel their rise in the ranks.

On the opposite side, you may find passive, disinterested, or downright hostile stakeholders. As you start requirements analysis, this group will bring up objections and the reasons why “it will not work.” The requirements workshops will slow down when they start bringing up issues and disagreeing with the enthusiastic crowd. They may remind everyone that they know the process best and must usually deal with the consequences of bad decisions and mistakes made upstream.

However irritating you may find these hostile stakeholders, they are often right.

Sometimes they will be the only team members who will tell you the inconvenient truth, who will give you critical information about the context, the risks, and the downstream impacts of the change.

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