DEVELOPING YOURANALYTICAL SKILLSBy Tony ObregonMarch 12, 2012
WHAT EXACTLY ARE ANALYTICAL SKILLS? The ability to apply logical thinking to the gathering and analyzing of information The ability to visualize, articulate, and solve problems and concepts The ability to make decisions that make sense based on available information Source: Wikipedia
WHY ANALYZE INFORMATION? The political decisions we make can change the course of legislation locally, regionally and globally The economic decisions we make impact how we live and the future of companies and markets The personal decisions we make affect the relationships you have with family, friends and co- workers The business decisions we make can enhance the quality of our work and even open doors to new opportunities
5 TIPS TO BETTER ANALYTICAL SKILLS 1. Ask the right questions 2. Realize what you don’t know 3. Make no assumptions 4. Don’t take what you see at face value 5. Turn information into knowledge
#1 - ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS What do we know already? Conduct an What do we need to know? “Informational Interview” What are the expected results? How will we act on this once we have the data? How much time am I allotted on this research? When is the information needed?
THE POWER OF THE QUESTION! Over 1 billion web pages devoted to questions for every type of situation!
The most critical question is... HOWwill the information will be used by the requestor?
#2 - REALIZE WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW Don’t be embarrassed to ask simple questions Start from the bottom to ensure you cover all the bases Allow your research to guide you into different directions
#3 - MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS Does the requestor really know what they want? Are you sure that the information will be easily found? Is it possible that someone may have gathered similar information? Do you have enough time to complete the task? If in doubt about the results or the format of the report…ask.
#4 - DON’T TAKE THINGS AT FACE VALUE Errors occur by both man and machine Cross-reference statistics and research when possible Look deeper to determine the real value in the information Validate sources to ensure their credibility, especially those online From 500 feet this may look like Marilyn Monroe but on closer inspection it’s actually Albert Einstein
ASSESSING SOURCES OF INFORMATION Who created the source and why? Is this person a neutral party or do they have a vested interest? Did this person have first-hand knowledge or only reporting on what others heard and saw? Remember to cite your sources
After collecting information, review and assemble it Create categories that help organize it Look for patterns of recurring data Add your perspective to what you’ve uncovered Summarize analysis to crystallize the findings Bring value to the information by keeping your requestor in mind
ANALYZING NEWS COVERAGE What kind of media outlet published the story? How is the client/company/topic positioned? Any spokespeople quoted? Are competitors mentioned? Is the article balanced? What are the key messages? Is this from a regular columnist, freelancer or contributing author? What is the circulation/readership? Was this posted online as well?
ANALYZING BLOG POSTS Is this the real author or was the post hijacked? Is the content syndicated from another source? Are there numerous ads littering the blog? Is the URL suspicious looking? How much influence does the blogger have? What’s their experience and association with the topic? Who are they connected to online? How many comments are being left on the blog by readers? Do they link to other networks that you can follow to get more insight on them? Have they covered this topic before?
ANALYTICAL QUIZ HOW MANY “F”S IN THE SENTENCE?