CBAP – I made it, but it's not the destination that I thought it was

CBAP is not the final destination

 After a lifetime of progressive career moves, I started, two years ago, on a serious journey towards attaining CBAP certification from the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

At the end of 2014 I sat and passed the exam.

It’s been an awesome adventure. There have been struggles and achievements. I’ve had to fight off ogres that wanted to prevent me reaching my goal. (Most of these were in my head). I have met many wonderful, eclectic, people along the way, and have been supported (both morally, and physically) by many heroes and heroines that have been there for me.

And I have learnt a lot. Studying the IIBA’s BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge), has allowed me to formalise the skills and knowledge that are invaluable for a Business Analyst.

And while I thought that achieving that right to vaunt that I had achieved CBAP status would be the pinnacle of my journey – the very goal that I was striving for, it turns out that it isn’t.

Everything described in the BABOK was, for me, enlightening. Every sentence written in this tome of knowledge is valuable. As I read, and re-read each paragraph, and viewed each diagram, I felt an enriching of my comprehension. As if my brain started working at new levels….

However, the more I read, the more I realised that the BABOK was merely providing an extremely good high-level map of the BA world. One with signposts to areas that needed further exploring.

CBAP isn’t my destination… 

IIBA CBAP … Merely a stop along the way

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Back from the Darkness

I'm Back

Time: Friday evening, 23 August 2014

Place: Here

I clicked on the link to my blog to discover ...

24-08-2014 21-35-21

Aarghh … Wordpress had suspended my blog due to a breach of their Terms of Service.

I went through the terms with a magnifying glass. There was nothing that I seemed to have blatantly ignored. Maybe there was something that I had accidentally infringed…

I quickly found their response form on their site, and asked for more information. 

And … it turns out that it was a mistake



Hah! My first data scrape


I’ve just finished Module 2 of the MOOC Data Journalism course (that I mentioned in an earlier post).

The description for this module is:

This module deals with the range of skills that journalists use to obtain data. This includes setting up alerts to regular sources of information, simple search engine techniques that can save hours of time and using laws in your own and other countries.”

And (like all the other Modules) is made up of four parts:

  1. Setting up ‘data newswires’
  2. Strategic searching – tips and tricks
  3. Introduction to scraping
  4. Data laws and sources

In Part 3, I learnt to do some basic data scraping. This, essentially, is a way of grabbing content from lists, and tables, on web sites.

We covered a few tools that make this possible. The one that did surprise me was that you can use a spreadsheet created in Google Drive.

The command is IMPORTHTML(url, query, index)

Just as a practice I used it to scrape the list of Titanic passengers from Wikipedia.

Here’s the Wikipedia link:

And here is the Google spreadsheet that I imported the data to:

It was my first scraping, and nothing fancy. Also the data does need a bit of cleaning (in one case, there was extra info in the HTML that the scraping pulled in).

Also, this functionality is not just available in Google Spreadsheet. I have read that Excel can also do this. If you know of any more, please let me know.



Journalism with Data


If you browse through the posts in this blog, you’ll see that there are several that are related to “telling a story”, “using pictures to present data, and similar:

Because I want to be able to present data graphically, in a proper way, I have started an online course titled: “Doing Journalism With Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools“.

It’s a 5-module online (MOOC) introductory course  that “gives you the essential concepts, techniques and skills to effectively work with data and produce compelling data stories under tight deadlines.

Awfully exciting stuff! It’s actually being taught by 5 tutors (one for each module) from Britain, America, and France. Here are the five modules:

Module 1 – Data journalism in the newsroom
Module 2 – Finding data to support stories
Module 3 – Finding story ideas with data analysis
Module 4 – Dealing with messy data
Module 5 – Telling stories with visualisation

You can read more about the course here.

I’ve just started module 1 (along with 21,280 other students), and I’m keen to work my way through the rest of the modules.

At the end, I’ll give an idea what I thought of the course along with any real gems that I got out of it.



  • Journalism Course
  • Launching a MOOC for data journalism
  • Top 10 skills new journalists should have

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Importance of “Rituals” in Professional Relationships

In a TED talk, Dr Abraham Verghese says that:

“The most important innovation in medicine to come in the next 10 years: the power of the human hand.”

In this talk he describes how there is the ritual that is often the most important thing for the doctor-patient relationship. It is the “human contact” that makes the patient feel that there are being cared for.

One interesting example Verghese gives, is the “ritual” of the daily rounds (in a hospital). In earlier years, this involved a group of junior doctors crowding around a more senior one as they went from bed to bed to check on, and discuss, the patients. Nowadays, this is more likely to happen with all the doctors sitting around a large table, all with access to print-outs, computer screens, etc, etc., without the patient even being present.

This is true for a lot of situations where there is some professional relationship. It is the presence of the “expert” and the way they perform their “ritual” that gives the customer a sense of “being taken seriously”.

Verghese gives a great talk. I’m definitely going to have a watch of this again at some stage.

Abraham Verghese: A doctor’s touch

  • Abraham Verghese urges Stanford grads to always remember the heritage and rituals of medicine
  • Stanford’s Abraham Verghese honored as both author and healer
  • Inside Abraham Verghese’s bag, a collection of stories
  • Why We Love Abraham Verghese
Posted in About Me | Tagged Abraham Verghese, Doctor-patient relationship, Professional relationship, Ritual | Leave a reply

“Photo ops” & “post topics” – they’ve re-wired my brain

Ever since I got my new smart phone (Samsung Galaxy 2S), I’ve (re)discovered the joys of photography.

Sure – I have a “proper SLR digital camera which I’m very happy with, and can do incredible things with, but the smartphone has given me the chance to have a camera with me almost always.

Combined with the fact that I have photo editing software also installed on the smartphone means that I don’t have to “transfer” the file before I add a filter to enhance it.

And being able to then upload the photo to an online storage site is just great. (My photos upload automatically to Google+, but I use Flick’r as my “showcase”.)

So, taking photos, of what I consider to be interesting scenes, is now a new enjoyable hobby of mine. So much so that anywhere I go now I’m looking for “interesting” shots. So much so that if I’m driving and I pass something that “catches my eye”, I’ll either stop straight away or try and do a U-turn as soon as I can, and trying somewhere relatively safe (but not always) to stop the car.

This continual alertness for “photo ops” is something that happens, now, automatically. I don’t have to  consciously think about it. And the same thing is happening now when I read articles on the internet. My brain is automatically determining whether I could use what I’m reading a blog post. “Is this subject related to what I blog about?”, “Is it something that I have an opinion about, or could expand on?”

It’s as if I’ve set up my own Google Alerts in my brain (with some more complex selection criteria).

And, my good reader (yes – you know who you are), if you have read some of my other “why do I blog?” posts, you’ll know that this analysing of content, this critical thinking, is what I was aiming to achieve. So I’m happy.

On the photo side – as I mentioned I really enjoy capturing unusual, or interesting scenes. I upload them to Flick’r, but don’t do it to attract viewers. (The same with my blog posts – if people read them, I consider it a bonus, but it’s not the main reason I write them).

So – I got a really nice surprise this morning when I saw a tweet from Ben Evans in Australia, someone I’ve been following, but have never really interacted with.

Ben’s tweet was:

When are you giving up the day job to become a full time photographer? These photos are a nice diversion in my tweet stream

It was cool to know that someone enjoyed my photos.

Thanks Ben


Related Posts

  • My photos on Flick’r
  • How Apt…The Desire to Write (an earlier blog post)

“The New Normal” – my initial thoughts

I have been given a copy of Peter Hinssen’s “The New Normal“.

This book is about the

“advancement in technology” that “is creating a new ‘normal’ where relationships with consumers are increasingly in a digital form.”

Hinssen claims that we are “half way”, and that amazing things are going to be happening.

I’ve only just started reading the book, but here are my thoughts so far (as reviewed on  Goodreads) …


The New Normal: explore the limits of the digital worldThe New Normal: explore the limits of the digital world by Peter Hinssen

28 February 2012

Just started reading this book…but so far I am unimpressed.

Hinssen is telling us nothing new. Yes, technology has made a big jump. Yes, there are young people today who have never had to use an “analog” anything. Yes, for them digital is normal.

And – another thing that irks me is the concept that we are “half way”. How do we know that we are half way? Half way to what? Saying that implies that there is a defined endpoint. And then what?

As mentioned – I’ve only started reading this book (up to page 14). The things that I mention above are enough to make me want to keep reading. I want to see if Hinnsen moves away from this “wow – all this new technology” stance and offers something that isn’t self-evident. I also want to see whether he expands on this “half way” idea.

I will add to my comments once I have finished the book.


Here is a video that gives a “teaser” of his book…
[vodpod id=Video.16153305&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Related Links

  • “The New Normal” (on Peter Hinssen’s site)
  • Synopsis (by Peter Hinssen)
  • “The New Normal” (on
  • My review of the book (on
  • My profile on

My “Interview”

I was honoured the other day when Bryant Duhon, Editor and Community Manager at AIIM International, asked if he could “interview” me. Below is the result:


I want to say a big Thank You to Bryant. I’m really happy with the write-up.

You can read the original here, and the links to my sites can be seen on my About Me page.


  • Exciting Times ahead with AIIM
  • AIIM with Pie