The “Analysis” Skill

The “Analysis” skill is perhaps the toughest skill to master and, if you watch any particular news channel these days, is probably the skill that is most abused.

In logical terms, it is simply “P implies Q” i.e., a hypothesis through a logical process will imply a conclusion. If the hypothesis (P) is true, then if the logical process is followed, the conclusion (Q) will be TRUE. If the hypothesis (P) is NOT true, then even if the logical process is followed, the conclusion (Q) can be either TRUE or NOT TRUE.

Therefore, if one has solid “Information” skills and collects information or data that is both relevant and true, then he/she can use that information to derive what is called a “FINDING” (what the collection of information actually means).

From a set of FINDINGS, one can therefore derive a set of CONCLUSIONS that are based on solid FINDINGS and true information/data.

From these CONCLUSIONS, one can therefore derive a set of RECOMMENDATIONS that are based solidly on true information, solid facts, findings and conclusions, and can be confident that, within the normal realm of probability, the recommendations might actually be correct to solve the problem.

This is precisely the process that the physician applies in making a diagnosis; it is precisely the process that an attorney applies in preparing a case for trial in front of a judge or jury. It is precisely the process that a management consulting firm applies when addressing problems and issues involved in any consulting engagement. It is precisely the process that a Harvard Business School student uses when she/he plows through three different case studies per day!

People can be easily fooled, however, by biased newscasters who start from a desired conclusion and then either cherry pick or even make up the “facts” to support those conclusions – and then they call it “news.”

The “Analysis” skill is often called a “critical thinking” skill. One does NOT rest a hypothesis on anything but hard facts that can be tested for truth, because hypotheses that are not TRUE can lead to any sort of findings and conclusions that one wants. An example of this is in the area of religion where religions are based on “faith” . . . i.e., they “hope” the hypothesis is true. Various “faiths” lead to various religions and, within those religions, various denominations. Some say that in religion, logic and analysis are left at the door. One specific example of the negative effects of a strong faith was in clear evidence when young men flew airplanes into buildings. This is simple reality (and again I am not trying to offend the profoundly religious).

Here’s a tip: GET GOOD AT THE ANALYSIS SKILL! It will serve you well in your career as well as your life.

And you probably will never listen to “the news” in the same way as before!

Copyright © 2013 by The Critical Skills Group

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