If we think about how Excel gurus solve problems in Excel, clearly the technical expertise comes to our minds. But that is not all there is to it. Things like communicating articulately and with confidence are also important factors. That said, there are even stranger things that might come into play, for example knowledge of a foreign language.
If you are on the hook, let’s join Jordan Goldmeier, Oz du Soleil, Rick Grantham and our special guest Kevin Lehrbass of mySpreadsheetLab.com in this interesting discussion.
Kevin posted a video on his website about his analysis of the “closeness” of Super Bowl games. Unlike his other videos, this one focused on the thought process that went in to churn out this piece of analysis. Be sure to check it out!
To know how “close” two games were or how much did it keep you at the end of your seat, it is not just the final difference in scores that matters. How neck and neck the match was throughout also matters. And based on this example, our experts reveal general aspects of the thought process a competent data analyst should have. Watch the video below to be inspired!
In the same spirit, Oz remembers a piece of analysis aimed at breaking down the performance of various teams in the previous to last Super Bowl. Turns out the running backs had an average game, quarterbacks also played an average game, but Seahawks defense played had a stellar game. And that is what took the team to victory.
According to Oz, people often do not get around asking relevant questions that help define the problem. If you can get to three different but equal definitions of the problem at hand, then you can use a dashboard to accommodate all your ideas. And the resultant analysis would be an exceptional piece.
Excel skills can be taught. But this mindset is what is required to achieve great things. If a data analyst just follows through a fixed procedure from some manual to solve the given problem, he wouldn’t know if numbers are looking funny. Therefore, it is important to ask questions, to understand the problem.
Rick emphasized on how some people get bogged down on mastering the toolbox and lose sight of the greater goal. This goes against the spirit of what Business Analytics is all about.
He also stressed on the difficulty of teaching people how to get into that analytical mindset. Getting somebody to get accustomed to a thought process that is not natural for them, that’s hard work! But, at the end of the day, it completely worth it.
Kevin holds that, within the field of Business Analytics, you need both: the technical expertise as well as having the ability to breakdown problems and knowing which tool can help solve them.
After putting in weeks, months or years of hard work in developing one’s technical abilities, there comes a time when one has enough expertise to tackle any technical challenge thrown at them. Jordan explained how, even after that point, one’s learning as an analyst does not cease. There are always new ways of looking at different problems that one can be inspired by.
For example, people normally do not associate foreign languages, or arts and humanities with Excel. But they are still a very rich source of learning new ways to think about analytical problems. And Kevin is a prime example of this. He used to teach foreign languages. And this skilled helps him in breaking ideas down in many different ways and communicating them in an articulate manner to the client. Kevin rightfully believes that learning languages forces analytical thinking. And this includes learning programming languages.
Jordan and Kevin both talked about having confidence in ones work. This also means knowing what the client needs even when they themselves might not have correctly identified it. And, since your work as a data analyst is all live, your have to be quick about it.
Write to us with your thoughts and tips in the comments section below. And do not forget to share this technique with your friends or colleagues.
I am a healthcare consultant, currently based in Middle East, at an international professional services firm. My work largely revolves around project management, and statistical analysis. And my professional interests include developing my knowledge within the discipline of health analytics.
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