Have you ever described yourself as curious? Following your natural curiosity is a key part of improving your analytical skillset – making it easier for you to identify creative solutions and solve key problems, thus driving success and productivity for your business.
First things first – what does analytical thinking even mean?
Analytical thinking describes one’s ability to solve problems by evaluating noisy data to identify patterns. By analyzing and organizing data effectively, analytical thinkers excel at detecting patterns amidst the noise – they can arrive at clever solutions to complex problems.
To help your business make more informed decisions, read on to discover helpful tips for bolstering your own analytical skillset:
1. Gathering & collecting information
With the abundance of information available today, it is wise to use trusted, verified sources before you begin analyzing data. By ensuring the quality, accuracy, and validity of your data inputs, you’re ensuring that the insights you develop throughout your analysis are based on facts, not fluff.
Depending on the task at hand, you may also benefit from having data from a variety of sources – including past business performance, trends related to your industry or key competitors, as well as consumer trends across different age or demographic groups.
2. Look for patterns & trends – while leaving your assumptions at the door.
Once you’ve assembled and organized your various data points, begin by looking for patterns. Here are a few examples of analytical questions to ask yourself when getting started:
- Did what I expect to happen, actually happen?
- What major increases or decreases occurred now vs. before?
- How is my company performing now vs. the past? How do we measure up vs. key competitors?
Throughout this process, continue to look for and identify opportunities for your business. Is there an unmet need that your business can provide to consumers? Is there an opportunity to grow the business into new channels or industries?
By spotting trends in the data, you can more easily put your business’ current performance into context, and thus identify potential whitespace opportunities for the future. Which brings us to the next point…
3. Prioritize and customize your findings.
As you begin finalizing your key implications from the data set, consider how relevant these insights are based on your project’s objectives. Prioritizing your findings based on the business’ needs will help you empower your audience to make decisions faster and more productively.
However, also consider the impact that these insights could have on the other functions at your company – perhaps there are conclusions that could be helpful to the brand strategy, accounting, or operations teams. Find ways to share relevant findings and customize solutions with cross-functional team members to fuel healthy working relationships and future business growth.
4. Last but not least – tell the story
Regardless of the industry you’re in, human beings are compelled by story. While analyzing data can feel like rigid process, find ways to bring your insights to life when communicating your findings. Set the stage by highlighting the main characters (usually your brand, competitors, or customers), outlining where they’ve been (historical data), and clarifying where they need to go next (prioritized recommendations) in order to succeed.