Analytical Thinking

Analytical Thinking is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills linked to performance and career success. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills like analytical thinking can also be learned and developed just like any hard skills. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like analytical thinking through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Is Analytical Thinking

Definition of Analytical Thinking: Applying logical thinking to solve complex problems.

Analytical thinking is the ability to tackle complicated issues by evaluating information you’ve gathered and organized. Analytical thinkers can detect patterns between datasets that often lead to creative solutions. They’re able to turn noisy data and information into action. As critical thinkers, they help teams make informed decisions based on collected data and identified goals. Analytical thinkers also help their team embrace new ideas and develop a growth mindset.

Analytical Thinkers You May Know

Heidi Zak: A major difficulty for millions of women is finding a bra that actually fits. There didn’t seem to be a scalable way for manufacturers to provide sizes for women of all shapes and sizes. Zak and her company ThirdLove set out to solve the problem by building a better bra while simultaneously making it easier for women to find their correct size. The company’s innovative system, which includes half-cup sizes, has made life easier for women who were once ignored by the mainstream market.

Reshma Saujani: During a visit to a high school computer science class, Saujani noticed a lack of girls in the classroom. She later learned that the biggest drop off for girls’ interest in computer science occurs between the ages of 13-17. Saujani realized this wasn’t an isolated incident. To tackle this systemic issue, she started Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that offers coding lessons and summer programs to girls from middle to high school across the U.S. Today, Girls Who Code has served over 185,000 women and young girls, bridging them with opportunities in tech.

Ryan Hoover: While trying to track down information on new products, Hoover found it almost impossible to find what he was looking for. Instead of throwing up his hands and giving up, Hoover looked at the underlying problem and worked to find a solution for everyone. To quench his curiosity and solve a need, he started Product Hunt, a community where early adopters, tech enthusiasts, and startup founders can share their enthusiasm and ‘hunt’ on new products.

Why Analytical Thinking Is Important

  • Practical Foresight: Analytical thinkers are great at spotting issues before they happen. They look ahead, picture a product or service in its development, and make a plan to create it.
  • Prioritization: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Analytical leaders know how to break large goals or problems down into manageable, achievable steps. They help their team manage their energy and effort in the most productive way.
  • Growth Mindset: Analytical thinking is about approaching every setback and failure as an opportunity to learn. Leaders often incorporate past learnings to solve present problems. They’re excellent at getting to the heart of a problem and finding the logical solution.

What Analytical Thinking Isn’t About

  • Overcomplicating: Rather than overcomplicating a project, critical thinkers look for the simplest ways to break down a problem and find a solution.
  • Stagnation: Great analytical thinkers know when it’s time to stop analyzing and take decisive action. They know that “doing” helps improve the learning process.
  • Making Assumptions: Strong analytical thinkers know that it is always better to make decisions from an informed point-of-view, rather than jumping to conclusions without a full understanding of the problem at hand.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Analytical Thinking

Analyzing information: The ability to examine information or a situation in detail in order to identify key or important elements, their strengths, and weaknesses and use these to compile a persuasive argument, make recommendations or solve a problem.

Breaking down problems: Big problems can usually be made easier by breaking them down into smaller problems. These smaller problems are often easier to solve than the original big one.

Gathering information: Ask appropriate questions of yourself and of others in order to gain the necessary insights that will enable you to make more effective decisions about the problems you are facing.

Identifying issues and problems: Developing your ability to recognize underlying issues or problems based on trends, associations and cause-effect relationships between datasets is a critical step towards solving the right problem.

Identifying root cause: Root cause analysis helps ensure you have identified the actual problem as opposed to just fixing resulting symptoms. It also helps you avoid the temptation to single-out one issue in order to resolve the problem as fast as possible.

Organizing information: Once all relevant information has been collected successfully, it's important to organize and integrate all the pieces in a way that will provide you with insights and ideas that can be used to draw appropriate conclusions. This will lay the foundation for potential solutions to the problems you are working to solve.

Explore Roles That Benefit From Analytical Thinking

Who can benefit from practicing analytical thinking? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their analytical thinking.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills
  • Software Engineers who aspire to become a tech lead or manager

Explore Complementary Skills to Analytical Thinking

Analytical Thinking shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your analytical thinking by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Code Quality: Writes long-term useful and long-term maintainable code
  • Design Thinking: Utilizes the design thinking methodology to solve problems and create solutions
  • Multitasking: Handles more than one task at the same time with ease
  • Resourcefulness: Overcomes challenging problems in an effective way
  • Strategic Thinking: Develops effective plans that are aligned with an organization’s mission

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