Perhaps you are working in the marketing department, and your boss asked you to create a plan to boost sales of a specific product that is not doing well in the market, what are you going to do? Would you immediately write a proposal based on what you generally know about marketing campaigns, or will you sit down and analyze the problem first?
If you do not care whether you succeed or not, then you can choose to do the former. But if you want to come up with a proposal that will solve your company’s sales issue, you should do the latter and practice analytical thinking.
What is Analytical Thinking?
As the term suggests, analytical thinking is the process of thinking analytically or systematically. This type of mental process involves breaking down a complex problem into simple components so that you can look into the situation better and come up with appropriate solutions.
Given the example mentioned above, you cannot just propose textbook solutions to boost product sales without looking at the problem. Analytical thinking means you will first determine the real problem of why the product is not selling well by gathering information from various sources.
Once you gathered all the data, you need to assess the information to know the cause of the low sales. Only when you know the real issue can you formulate strategies that will address the problem. The solutions you come up with should also be the result of careful assessment and testing of possible solutions.
Note that a critical component of analytical thinking is the ability to determine cause and effect relationships and patterns. You should know what will happen if you carry out the solutions that you planned.
How Can You Improve Your Analytical Skills?
If you think that analytical thinking skills need some work, here are practical things that you can do to develop it further:
- Read a lot of books and take down notes to ensure that you are processing information and not just passively reading.
- Observe your environment by using all your senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell, and, if possible, taste.
- Be curious and make a habit of asking questions.
- Ditch the television and acquire hobbies that challenge your thinking skills like solving puzzles, chess, or Sudoku.
- Make it a habit to explore new things and scrutinize every aspect.
Why is Analytical Thinking Critical in Your Job?
Whether you realize it or not, your work-life revolves around solving problems. From the time you tackle your first task in the morning until you decide to wrap-up your day and go home, you are continuously thinking and analyzing the best courses of action. If you practice analytical thinking, you can readily manage your day and identify suitable solutions to the many problems you face every day.
Note that apart from identifying and solving problems, developing your analytical thinking skill also helps strengthen various abilities that can help boost your worth in the workplace. These abilities include recognizing the underlying cause of problems, organizing data and information, proper planning, prioritizing, and drawing the right conclusions.
Analytical thinking is a fundamental skill that you need to develop not only to do well in your job but to enjoy your life to the fullest as well. Do not be disheartened if this ability does not come naturally to you like some people since you can always develop this skill with patience and consistency.