There are lots of analysts. Few good ones – and excellent ones are like hens teeth.
Analysts are the interface between data and action – the insight of the organisation. They are important. They can change your strategy. They can leverage and exploit your big data into smart data. They transform data to insight and let you take evidence-based action.
The most cited gripe I hear about analysts working in the industry is "so what,” and "I don't trust the data."
Why are there not more good analysts?
The bottom line comes down to being ultra clear on what you want your analyst to do and the skills and behaviours required to do it. Then you need to recruit to this and deploy the principles throughout your organisation. Let's call them hallmarks of a great analyst.
What are the magic 7 hallmarks?
- Great analysts need to be enquiring – This means 'seeking stones to turn'; asking questions to help shape hypothesis to test. They don’t jump to the answers; they spend the time on the questions.
- They need to understand the business processes, people and systems – Spending time observing and working with operational and enabling departments. Building credibility with business leads is key. Trust is critical.
- They need to have the right 'hard' skill sets, including technical, scientific and mathematical – Understanding bias, causation, forecasting and significance testing is a must. The appropriate balance and understanding of quantitative and qualitative methodology is a given.
- They need to be a top communicator – Building and influencing front-line business operations. Presentations and writing ability should not be compromised.
- They need to focus on context and storytelling – Deploying appropriate ways of visualisation techniques. Articulating the ‘big picture.’ People connect with a story; so must your analyst.
- They need to drive a positive learning and improvement culture – It's all about the challenging issues, right? No, focus on finding good practice, too.
- They need to be scalpel sharp on connecting outcome and indicator metrics – The pinch points of delivery. This is essential for base lining and the framework for benefits realisation and evaluation later on.
How do you find an analyst like this?
It all starts with good recruiting and hiring. Thorough tests and interviews against these tips is a must. Just because they have listed a load of experience does not make them right for the job. Put them through a tough process proportionate to what you what them to achieve. If you can't do it, find someone who can.
When great analysts are in the workplace, they need to be nurtured. Help them learn the business and support a culture of innovation, but challenge their delivery and ensure they operate within these seven hallmarks for analysts. Your business depends on it.