I’ve just finished reading Think Better Analytically, and I want to share my learning with you! I decided to read the book because I don’t think of myself as someone who thinks logically or analytically. I’m much more of an emotional thinker, placing more value on my instincts than the evidence in front of me. This frame of mind doesn’t always work out! So, I wanted to know how to think more analytically, and this book has given me some tips that I want to share with you in this blog post.
Firstly, thinking more analytically comes down to managing your thought process so that you can solve problems and make decisions based on evidence in a clear and focused way. I like the idea that you can manage your thought process, rather than it just being something that you naturally do. Managing your thinking takes discipline and understanding but having more control over your thought process gives much more structure to how you communicate and approach challenges. It all sounds very technical, but, for Assistants, we use a lot of analytical thinking in many aspects of our role. Let’s have a look at some of the techniques that help people think more analytically. You will see some of these techniques come naturally to Assistants.
How to think more analytically
- Asking thoughtful questions: This is the first step towards thinking more analytically. Asking good, thoughtful questions will always help you dive deeper into the conversation, and it will help you stand out as someone who is striving to learn more. You want to make sure that your questions are specific and will get the information that you require, so it is always best to prep your questions before your conversation or meeting. If you are attending a team meeting or one to one with your Executive, make sure you read all of the documentation around the event and think of some questions that might help push your workload along or your Executive’s projects. If you can’t think of anything specific that you want to drill down on then sometimes a simple ‘can you tell me more about that?’ will help you learn more about the project or task. Just be careful about when you ask questions, find an appropriate time, it might be something you want to follow up on after the meeting for instance.
- Data analysis: Whatever industry you are in there will be a ton of data that helps your Executive’s make decisions about the business. For Assistants, we see these reports, graphs, spreadsheets and presentations all the time and quite often we print everything out or send everything over to our Executive without reading the material. We are busy people, so I get it! But, try to find the time to understand what your Executive is reading so that you know what they know and can help them make decisions based on the data and findings presented.
- Information seeking: This is something that Assistants are good at innately. We are often tasked with information exploring – think of the famous quote from The Devil Wears Prada when Miranda asks Andy “Find me that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning.” We always have to seek information, find things and make arrangments with very few details. Analytical people can use a variety of tools and sources to pull the information they need together and can present that information in the correct format.
- Judgment: Judgement is a fantastic skill to have and to use at work. Using your judgement takes time, it is considered, and you look at all of the facts before making a decision. This ability usually comes with a level head and a panoramic view of everything that is going on. For Assistants, we are often asked to make decisions regularly usually when something has gone wrong, or someone needs something urgent from us. These high-pressure situations are much easier to deal with when you are practised in using your judgement. Judgement can be improved by experience, knowledge and awareness of what is going on. If you spend time with your Executive and get to know how they think you can also make judgement calls based on what you think they would do in that situation.
- Scepticism: Last but not least, it is always good to have a little bit of doubt in our line of work, when someone tells us something is urgent for instance! Balancing scepticism with openness is crucial but having a good healthy dose of scepticism is useful especially around pricing and when you need to negotiate with a supplier.