Awesome Discovery Sessions – It’s Not Magic

Trond FrantzenTrond Frantzen, Chief Business Development Strategist | The PowerStart Group


I’ve been studying and teaching Business System Analysis for many years. I’ve delivered courses and seminars to over 35,000 professionals. I’ve had a lot of fun. And I hope others have too.

At the end of the day, the only way you can “do” Business System Analysis is to actually get together with clients, users, subject-matter experts and ask them what it is they need for their system. Sounds straight-forward. But we all know it isn’t. If it was, everyone would be doing it, without it being a big deal, and our business system requirements would be a breeze. But it just ain’t so.

In my courses and seminars I spend a lot of time addressing how to go about doing the business requirements analysis. I demonstrate. We do workshops. We deal with the theories and practices. We do more workshops.

But the reality is, a classroom course or a seminar is not the real world. And we can never spend enough time on the foundations and principles … the “how do I do this” … of sitting down with clients, users and subject-matter experts.

Discovery_Sessions_cover_(Kindle)My best-selling book for 2016 was “How to Run Awesome Discovery Sessions“. This book … is about the “how do I do this” of sitting down with clients, users and subject-matter experts, to figure out what they really want and need for their system.

If you haven’t read this book yet … It will put into context the nature of your questions, the environment you need, how long it takes, who should be involved, and the tools you need.

You’ll also learn how to do it quickly, without missing a thing.

You’ll really find out what “agile” means – with the results, the specifications, the documentation; but without the chaos.

Join the others who made this my best-selling book in 2016. It’s available on Kindle, so it’s an easy digital read.


Trond FrantzenTrond Frantzen is Managing Partner with the PowerStart Group. He specializes in business development strategies, marketing planning and execution, and “bail-in” on challenged projects. His best-selling book, “How to Run Awesome Discovery Sessions” is his 2016 best-seller and promises to be the same in 2017.

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Criticism is Negative Energy

Trond FrantzenTrond Frantzen, Chief Business Development Strategist | The PowerStart Group


It often happens that we talk about a whole lot of things with our clients. Sometimes it’s related to work; sometimes it’s not. Whether it’s about work, the industry, the competition (yours or theirs), sports or anything else – never, ever criticize.

Criticism is negative energy. It focuses on weakness. And we should never focus on weakness; only on strength. This, too, goes to building your brand and what you stand for. It shows you are always positive (people like that) and you don’t get dragged into negative energy space.

Remember Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law (paraphrased): For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To criticize, therefore, doesn’t benefit anyone – because no benefit can return. The other side of this coin is that when we criticize, that criticism (perhaps in a different form) must come back to us in equal magnitude.

So, it’s not a good idea.

People don’t feel good when there’s criticism. It puts them in a negative state of mind, even when we feel justified in the criticism. Therefore, since the idea is to leave the client feeling good, don’t criticize anything, even if the client does. And if the client criticizes something, don’t respond with anything unless the client expects you to; in which case you can answer with the enigmatic “I understand”.


Trond Frantzen photoTrond Frantzen is Managing Partner with the PowerStart Group. He specializes in business development strategies, marketing & sales planning and execution, and “bail-in” on challenged projects. His best-selling book, “Requirements Analysis for Non-Technical Business Analysts: Business Requirements Elicitation” can be found on Amazon.

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The First Principle of Business Analysis

Trond FrantzenTrond Frantzen, Chief Business Development Strategist | The PowerStart Group


PowerStart Precision ConsultingSeveral years ago, Gerald M. (Jerry) Weinberg coined what he called The Lump Law, which stated: “In order to understand anything, we shouldn’t try to understand everything all at once.” In other words, if we want to understand anything at all, we should learn about it in tiny, understandable chunks, and synthesize it chunk by chunk. It’s frustrating and self-defeating to try to understand everything all at once – to try to get the big picture right away – especially if the subject is complex or new. It only leads to information overload.

This same principle applies to all aspects of business analysis. That is, if we try to understand everything about the target business all at once (i.e., linking all the stuff that’s to be integrated in a business), we’ll suffer from serious brain sprain. And we certainly won’t get the full set of business requirements right the first time, because it will simply be too complex. This is usually what happens when we try to figure out the solution first and then try to extract the business requirements to fit that solution.

Accordingly, I have restructured Weinberg’s Lump Law into The First Principle of Analysis, because it is so fundamental to any type of business analysis:

“Partition the effort to minimize complexity.”

Here’s another way of thinking about this:

Break down the work required to produce the requirements of the business into small, non-redundant, manageable and understandable pieces.

When doing business analysis of any kind, you will need to apply this principle often. Partition the effort to minimize complexity.


Trond Frantzen photoTrond Frantzen is Managing Partner with the PowerStart Group. He specializes in business development strategies, marketing & sales planning and execution, and “bail-in” on challenged projects. His best-selling book, “Requirements Analysis for Non-Technical Business Analysts: Business Requirements Elicitation” can be found on Amazon.

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Goals are Elusive Monsters

Trond FrantzenTrond Frantzen, Managing Partner | The PowerStart Group


Goals are Elusive MonstersProfessional goals are the darndest things. They can be elusive monsters that follow us for years, perpetuate guilt (for not hitting them), often don’t get updated, and cry out for the magic formula of “how do we do this?”. Goals that fall by the wayside, unachieved, never give us an explanation of why we didn’t reach our objective. They just sit there, saying, over and over again, “you failed”. Some goals can drive us nuts.

Unless we understand how to work well with them.

The first two steps in setting professional goals are (a) to assess where we are now; and then (b) to determine where we want to be.

Most important of all, wherever we want to go, we do not need to know how to get there. I know this goes against common wisdom (remembering that it’s also common that only 6 of 100 people reach their goals), but simply having the goal will eventually lead to developing the plan to achieving it. So, let me repeat this in different words: We do not need to know how to get there! The path will become clear after you have impressed the goal on your sub-conscious often enough.

So, if you’re a consultant, let’s assess where you are now. Write down your answers.

  • Where are you in your career? (Yes, you need to do this.)
  • Is it where you expected to be at this time? (Don’t be too hard on yourself, but be honest.)
  • Are you already a consultant (of some kind)? If so, how long have you been doing this?
  • Do you sell your own services, or do you work through an agency or another firm?
  • Do you set your own billing rate, or does someone else do it?
  • Do you think your billing rate is reasonable and competitive? Is it based on market forces?
  • If you set your own rates, how do you know it’s the right rate? Did you do your research, or are you just responding to competition?
  • Does your billing rate take into account any special factors, such as your unique skills or style? Should it? If so, why?
  • What do you bring to clients that other consultants don’t or can’t?
  • Are you a published author in your field?
  • How long have you wanted to be a consultant? (Or, how long have you wanted to have your own consulting firm?)
  • If you sell your own services,
    • How much time per day do you invest in marketing your services?
    • How much time per week do you actually speak with prospective clients?
  • What are you doing now that you would like to stop doing?

Remember, writing your answers down will stimulate thinking. It’s not the other way around.

Let’s move on and determine where you want to be. Again, write down your answers.

  • Do you want to be an independent consultant, or do you want to build a business?
  • Where do you see yourself in 2 years? In 5 years? (Visualize. It helps.)
  • What do you (or would you) like the most about working as a consultant?
  • What specific business or organizational skills do you have to offer clients as a consultant?
  • What management skills do you have to run your business (marketing, accounting, sales, etc.)?
  • Have you chosen a business name and registered it?
  • Have you prepared a business plan, even if it’s very brief? (Brief is good.)
  • What does sales success mean to you?
  • As part of your business strategy, will your billing rate take into account any special factors, such as your unique skills or style? Should it?
  • What do you want to bring to clients that other consultants don’t or can’t?
  • If you are not a published author already, is this something you’ll do (write a book) to bring added value to your clients?
  • How much time per day are you investing (or will you invest) in marketing your services?
  • How much time per week are you investing (or will you actually invest) in speaking directly with prospective clients?
  • As a consultant, what specific services will you not provide?

Answers to these questions will help you get a better picture of where you want to go. Also, a couple of questions may be difficult to answer – such as, how much time per week will you actually invest in speaking directly with prospective clients? We’ll address this in a future post.

Your answers also clearly identify the goals you should focus on. Write out each goal clearly, in present tense, and with the date when you achieve the goal. Repeat the goal to yourself every day, and visualize how you feel when you achieve it.

You are now on your way.


Trond Frantzen photoTrond Frantzen is Managing Partner with the PowerStart Group. He specializes in business development strategies, marketing & sales planning and execution, and “bail-in” on challenged projects. His newest book, “A Playbook for Success: A Guide to Sales Success for Consultants and the Rest of Us” can be found on Amazon.

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