On March 16, Billie Johnson, CBAP, spoke to the Austin chapter of IIBA on the "Impacts of Trust on Business Analysis". In particular, she describes the four cores of trust as defined by Stephen M.R. Covey in The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. These four cores are: Integrity, Intent, Capabilities and Results. As Mr. Covey points out in his book, all four are necessary to be seen as credible and therefore someone that others are willing to trust.

While it isn’t possible to blog about the entirety of Mr. Covey’s book or Ms. Johnson’s take on that material, something about the T.A.S.K.S. acronym rang home with me and felt worthy of a post:

T.A.S.K.S. stands for:

  • Talent – a special nature ability or aptitude
  • Attitude – our manner, feeling or position on a person or thing
  • Skills – learned competency or excellence in performance
  • Knowledge – familiarity with a particular subject
  • Style – a distinctive characteristic or manner of acting


The reason I believe this resonated with me was that everyone assumes that in our industry we bring our "hard" skills and knowledge to bear on an engagement. It is expected to be a given when you are consulting.

However, not everyone gives as much weight to "soft" skills such as talent, attitude and style. The reality is that they can often mean the difference between success and failure. After all, you can be the world’s smartest expert on a subject, but no one will want to work with you if you are difficult or put everyone to sleep. In fact, one of the most common complaints about consultants is that they are perceived as the outsider know-it-all that comes in with little humility or patience for less knowledgeable mortals. I can assure you that this is a stereotype that I would love to see die by the wayside, but it won’t unless consultants bring the full meaning of T.A.S.K.S. to bear.

Case in point, I have often felt that I was meant to be a business analyst.  I have a natural curiosity and drive to help people solve their challenges. Some would call that a talent. I also take particular care to bring the right attitude and delivery style towards my projects in that I strive to maintain a positive, learning environment that fosters creative and critical thought. Many of my clients have commented on the fact that I can speak "their language" and that they felt less intimidated by the scope or complexity of their problem when working with our team.

For folks that have worked with Catapult, this may come as no surprise. After all, these concepts are in our Brand Promise. Still, it is not an infrequent occurrence for me to work with new clients who are surprised at these positive aspects of working with a solid consulting team. While I don’t want to presume where those preconceptions arose, I do take them as an opportunity to prove that working with a consulting organization on a software development project does not have to be a laborious, painful experience.

My intent here is not to "toot my own horn" but rather to illustrate that our success often has as much to do with these intangibles soft skills as our more readily apparent ones. So, the next time you are preparing for a project engagement, whether as a project manager, a business analyst, developer or subject matter expert, ask yourself if you need to be brought to T.A.S.K.S.? If so, take a moment to analyze yourself in these key areas and focus on those with greatest opportunity for improvement. You will not only reap the rewards in your professional relationships, but you may also find that it makes your work more enjoyable and fulfilling.