Simplifying The Analytic Process

Part 1 — Defining It

For decades I organized analytic shops based on function. It was never a popular decision. However, the outcomes spoke for themselves. My teams lasted. They generated strong outcomes. They were ROI positive. They were “go to” groups with tremendous reputations.

My detractors, competitors, and second guessers organized competing groups based on subject matter expertise and alignment with the business. They rarely survived a year. Those people were managers. They were business people — not analysts. Ultimately — failures.

For decades, I have been heard these same people and even a few otherwise thoughtful friends repeat a rather interesting mantra:

Analytics Isn’t That Hard, Anyone Can Create Some Analysis, And These Days, We Are All Analysts

Fair enough. Although few people can actually define analytics… don’t believe me? Go ahead. I’ll wait…

Did you get it? Some people argue that it isn’t even a word… not so much these days, but I had former bosses who demanded my team’s title use analysis instead. In their words — analysis was a “real word”. Google Dictionary gives us this:

Is that what you said? It doesn’t seem very easy to me… kind of hard really… definitely complicated… certainly not simple. Odder still, I don’t think Aristotle would agree. He created the term and the science.

So I am sticking with — few people can even define analytics. But, plenty of people don’t let that stop them from using the title of analyst or creating something they call analysis. Sometimes they even use data or statistics — assuming you are not real concerned with how they define those two terms.

How do I define it? (Now that is a strong analytic question!)

Analytics is – the scientific discipline of developing reliable insight.

Is that easy? I never claimed it was. It is rather simple, though. Can anyone do it? The term discipline argues no… not reliably anyway. Should everyone be able to? Perhaps. Having a better definition certainly helps, but there is a lot of insight that needs to be developed first. It takes an analytic process to teach analytics.

How do I break it down? (That is a good one, too!)

I will lay out the answer in the articles to come. The first topic, I have written on before. I will share that article below — but in our next article, we will address the issue again, more in line with the definition provided above. So stay tuned for:

How — It all begins with a strong analytic question. The next article is now available — here.

How to ask the right questions?

After that, we will detail the five step process that describes all analytics. Each will be the topic of a separate article, but I have included links to related articles for those who prefer not to wait. You’ll want to come back — the new articles will go deeper into the process.

I — Information, input, inventory, investigation, and iterative approaches to integrating facts, feedback and data. Coming soon…

Feedback – Comprehension 360

P — Processes for problem solving, pattern recognition, and hypothesis testing. Coming soon…

O — Ordering, organization, and other efforts in sorting and segmentation. It also includes reporting, model development, and mapping. This is the synthesis within the analytic process. Coming soon…

D — Delineating, decision-making, and other types of measurement and comparison are key. Data-driven is determined at this stage, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Coming soon…

S — Storytelling is a big buzzword these days. It completes our acronym/mnemonic. It includes teaching, informing, persuading, and other types of communication. It also builds culture. Coming soon…


Simplifying The Analytic Process was originally published in Comprehension 360 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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