How to Develop Analytical Skills
In our day to day life whether official, personal or social, we have to deal with complications. Some situations are easy to handle with but other are complex which snatch the peace of mind because our brain gets stuck on how best to handle such state of affair. This is where our Analytical Skills help us. The prime purpose for the Analysis of any given situation is to get to know the root cause(s) of the issue, to forecast the impact and to plan corrective/preventive actions strategy. So basically analytical skill is to visualize a given situation, task, project or issue from several angles in order to breakdown it into smaller steps.
Below are different situations where our analytical skills are required. I shall give advices in each category accordingly:
1) When Summarizing Large Amount of Data: In this situation, I highly recommend using Pivot Tables feature of MS Excel in order to generate reports. The Pivot Reports feature allows us playing with the data in several ways to generate multi dimensional reports. We can breakdown large amount of data in different sheets to apply Pivot Reports separately as well. Youtube is a very good source of videos for learning this skill. Pivot table can also generate reports for Trends and Forecast in two to three dimensions.
2) When Resolving Conflicts in Office: In this case, listen to all parties which are having difference of opinion. List down the positive and negative input factors and after-effects based on feedback from individuals. Make it in tabular format and review this with your manager to see which one is the best option to go for. Then call for a meeting to elaborate the overall picture based on your fair analysis and convince personnel for the option which is in the best interest of the company.
3) When Being Assigned a large project: in this case you need to make a high level agenda (High Level Project Deliverables) and then start working on WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) and then assign each task to relevant resource. While making WBS you can have a meeting with your Team Leads and other stake holders. You can consider Fishbone diagram to analyze the inputs of any task. The article written by Junaid Tahir (mjunaidtahir at gmail dot com)
4) When Resolving a Technical issue: The advice here is to consult the product guide to see the possible root causes, consult the SME (Subject Matter Expert) for opinion or consult the Lesson Learnt Register. For all kind of issues resolutions, I always recommend two things. First is to take corrective action to fix the issue, Second is to take Preventive Action (fix the root cause permanently) so that the issues do not pop up again. Six Sigma’s DMAIC is another recommended way for analyzing and improving. If you want to learn Six Sigma, either do google search or drop me an email mjunaidtahir at gmail dot com so I can share my knowledge J
5) When purchasing something: Let us take the example of mobile phone. When you want to purchase a new mobile you need to ask yourself: do I need touch screen, do I need wifi, do I really need to purchase new mobile, what is my budget? do I need 5MP camera, do I need iphone or Android, do I need 4 inch screen or less? What other specs do I need to consider. So Basically you are analyzing your demands to come up with the right mobile which is to be purchased.
6) When handling family conflicts: Being a sensitive subject, this is something where you need much more than analytical skills; For each family member involved in the conflict, you have to have sense of feelings, emotions study, stress absorption power, age factor, relationship level and convincing power so in my opinion this is the most difficult part of practicing your analytical skills. You have to consistently guide everyone about ‘forgive and forget’ policy. You have to calmly listen to each party and take adequate time to analyze all aspects (as mentioned a couple of lines back) vigilantly before concluding something on the brawl. https://groups.google.com/group/ParadigmWisdom
Conclusion: Analytical skills can make your life easier in almost all aspects of decision making or problem solving, however, it’s not only the matter of considering all the options and the inputs, its matter of considering the weight of each option as well. For example, for a given situation you have two options having equal number of advantages or disadvantages so in order to conclude in such situation you have to consider the weight of each option. While doing your analysis you might want to consider the difference between Urgent and Important things. If that is the case please read my article http://paradigmwisdom.blogspot.com/2012/01/learn-to-differentiate-between-urgent.html
Develop and Sharpen your analytical skills to take steps for reducing stress in your life consequently ensuring the peace of mind.
Article Reference: 0009-mjunaidtahir-paradigmwisdom-01Feb12- How to Develop Analytical Skills