What this looks like:
Follows a systematic approach to problem solving and has an understanding of complex issues
Knows which resources to use to obtain the most current and accurate data
Identifies the cause-effect relationships and understands the ‘why’ behind each result
Studies abnormal findings and outliers, and investigates further where warranted
Interprets data, predicts future business impacts through what-if analysis, and draws conclusions for stakeholders
Break a task into steps. Break things down into it’s smallest component possible to understand how everything fits together. The more critical you can get, the more analytical skills you’re practicing.
Try this: Create a step-by-step guide for one of your tasks and analyze the importance of each step. Break each step down farther e.g., how much time needed, who is involved, who is responsible, resources needed, etc.
Try this: Conduct a Root Cause Analysis such as the Fishbone Cause & Effect Analysis to identify the cause-effect relationships of a problem.
Be curious and ask questions. Remember those kids who keep asking “why” after all of your answers? Well, they were on to something! We tend to go through the motions and follow processes because that’s the way it has always been done, but asking why multiple times will help us analyze the root cause of just about anything.
Try this: The next time you start on a project or receive information about a task, ask questions to obtain a better understanding of why and how things are they way they are e.g., Why do we need to do this? Why does Step A have to go before Step B? Why? Why? Why?
Find a challenger. Send your completed work to someone to test your assumptions and logic.
Try this: Share an idea with a colleague and ask him/her to challenge your viewpoints by asking open-ended questions that test your logic. These questions should require you to dig deeper on the cause and effects of your reasoning.
Try this: Share a product or process you created with a colleague and ask him/her to perform quality assurance. Challenge your colleague to ‘break’ the product or find loopholes in the process. You’re aiming for zero-to-little errors.
Participate in debates. Reddit is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and intellectual discussions in an anonymized setting.
Try this: Check out r/explainlikeimfive or r/changemyview and participate in friendly discussions or debates. Both subreddits are great resources to observe people using analytical skills to explain things in layman’s terms. If you’re bold, join in the discussion and practice your skills. It’s anonymous!
Resources for more inspiration
Agile Lean Life: How to Improve Your Analytical Skills to Make Smarter Life Decisions by Blaz Kos
Social Cops: Your Guide to Qualitative and Quantitative Data Analysis Methods by Manu Bhatia
Wise Step: How to Improve Analytical Thinking Skills: Awesome Guide by Chitra Reddy
FYI For Your Improvement by Michael Lombardo & Robert Eichinger - Chapter 51: Problem Solving
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
99% Invisible Podcast (This podcast is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about).
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