To conduct a proper analysis, you have to be engaged with the text. You have to think deeply. Reading is not analysis. Reading is an understanding of what is in front of you. Analysis is understanding what you can’t see. Analytical thinking is an active, not passive, activity.
Successful professionals know how to connect the dots and see the gaps. Learning to uncover what may not be readily apparent can help your team be more effective and see a path forward.
To be a great analytical thinker, you must connect the subject matter at hand with the other knowledge you already know. That is, you have to understand the concept and how that concept relates to other things. Here are five tips to make you a better analytical thinker:
1. Start with individual words and terms and then the sentence. Then recognize the sentence’s importance in the paragraph and section.
What do the words mean in the sentence? What is the meaning of the sentence? What is the role of the statement in the paragraph or section?
Analytical thinking is the ability to break someone else’s perspective into its parts and see it from your point of view. Analytical thinking allows you to unpack someone else’s argument and be an independent thinker.
2. Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why and how.
In looking at words and sentences, ask yourself questions like “Who is saying this?” or “Why are they saying this?”
Asking the who, what, when, where, why and how ensures a comprehensive approach to thinking deeply about a topic.
3. Find the gaps.
If you find that you are not understanding what you are reading or wondering how the person arrives at such a conclusion, this may indicate a gap. This is your opportunity to identify what is missing.
Think about what needs to be done to close the gap. What should be the next step to make the statement or initiative logical? What has to be created? What has to be improved?
4. Engage with your colleagues to know the goals of your manager, team and organization.
To ensure your ideas and suggestions are relevant, be clear on your team’s goals. Let’s say you are reading a business article and see an opportunity for your company to expand its business to Asia. If your team is currently focused on improving the product in the Americas, your ideas won’t be productive. You will be wasting your time and your team’s time.
If you looked at that same article, knowing your team’s focus was to enhance its current product, you might think that partnering with the academic quoted could aid in product improvements. When you understand the priorities of your team, you will think of opportunities that align with your team’s goals.
5. Be cognizant of world events to make relevant recommendations.
To be a great analytical thinker, develop the habit of reading a lot. Read articles about your industry, news articles and social media posts from credible experts. Having an understanding of the world around you can help your mind to see where your team can innovate or have a competitive advantage.
Use your analytical skills to connect what you see in front of you to the knowledge you have of what is going on in the world. When you demonstrate your ability to think strategically, you will demonstrate your value as a member of the team. You will demonstrate that you have the ability to think of how you can help the team position themselves for opportunities.
Analysis is a discipline that can help you master a concept, propose improvements and think of new ideas. Understand individual words, how those words fit within the sentence and then how that sentence plays a role within the greater product. When looking at these elements, ask yourself the basic questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. Look for what might be missing. Continue to collaborate with colleagues to have context and understand how the work at hand matters to the greater company goal. Also, consider the changing world around you to ensure your analysis is relevant and the team is forward thinking.