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What are analytical skills? Examples and how to level up


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What are analytical skills?

Why are analytical skills important, 9 analytical skills examples, how to improve analytical skills, how to show analytical skills in a job application, the benefits of an analytical mind.

With market forecasts, performance metrics, and KPIs, work throws a lot of information at you. 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, not only do you have to make sense of the data that comes your way — you need to put it to good use. And that requires analytical skills.

You likely use analytical thinking skills every day without realizing it, like when you solve complex problems or prioritize tasks . But understanding the meaning of analysis skills in a job description, why you should include them in your professional development plan, and what makes them vital to every position can help advance your career.

Analytical skills, or analysis skills, are the ones you use to research and interpret information. Although you might associate them with data analysis, they help you think critically about an issue, make decisions , and solve problems in any context. That means anytime you’re brainstorming for a solution or reviewing a project that didn’t go smoothly, you’re analyzing information to find a conclusion. With so many applications, they’re relevant for nearly every job, making them a must-have on your resume.

Analytical skills help you think objectively about information and come to informed conclusions. Positions that consider these skills the most essential qualification grew by 92% between 1980 and 2018 , which shows just how in-demand they are. And according to Statista, global data creation will grow to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025 — a number with 21 zeros. That data informs every industry, from tech to marketing.

Even if you don’t interact with statistics and data on the job, you still need analytical skills to be successful. They’re incredibly valuable because:

  • They’re transferable: You can use analysis skills in a variety of professional contexts and in different areas of your life, like making major decisions as a family or setting better long-term personal goals.
  • They build agility: Whether you’re starting a new position or experiencing a workplace shift, analysis helps you understand and adapt quickly to changing conditions. 
  • They foster innovation: Analytical skills can help you troubleshoot processes or operational improvements that increase productivity and profitability.
  • They make you an attractive candidate: Companies are always looking for future leaders who can build company value. Developing a strong analytical skill set shows potential employers that you’re an intelligent, growth-oriented candidate.

If the thought of evaluating data feels unintuitive, or if math and statistics aren’t your strong suits, don’t stress. Many examples of analytical thinking skills don’t involve numbers. You can build your logic and analysis abilities through a variety of capacities, such as:

1. Brainstorming

Using the information in front of you to generate new ideas is a valuable transferable skill that helps you innovate at work . Developing your brainstorming techniques leads to better collaboration and organizational growth, whether you’re thinking of team bonding activities or troubleshooting a project roadblock. Related skills include benchmarking, diagnosis, and judgment to adequately assess situations and find solutions.

2. Communication

Becoming proficient at analysis is one thing, but you should also know how to communicate your findings to your audience — especially if they don’t have the same context or experience as you. Strong communication skills like public speaking , active listening , and storytelling can help you strategize the best ways to get the message out and collaborate with your team . And thinking critically about how to approach difficult conversations or persuade someone to see your point relies on these skills. 

3. Creativity

You might not associate analysis with your creativity skills, but if you want to find an innovative approach to an age-old problem, you’ll need to combine data with creative thinking . This can help you establish effective metrics, spot trends others miss, and see why the most obvious answer to a problem isn’t always the best. Skills that can help you to think outside the box include strategic planning, collaboration, and integration.


4. Critical thinking

Processing information and determining what’s valuable requires critical thinking skills . They help you avoid the cognitive biases that prevent innovation and growth, allowing you to see things as they really are and understand their relevance. Essential skills to turn yourself into a critical thinker are comparative analysis, business intelligence, and inference.

5. Data analytics

When it comes to large volumes of information, a skilled analytical thinker can sort the beneficial from the irrelevant. Data skills give you the tools to identify trends and patterns and visualize outcomes before they impact an organization or project’s performance. Some of the most common skills you can develop are prescriptive analysis and return on investment (ROI) analysis.

6. Forecasting

Predicting future business, market, and cultural trends better positions your organization to take advantage of new opportunities or prepare for downturns. Business forecasting requires a mix of research skills and predictive abilities, like statistical analysis and data visualization, and the ability to present your findings clearly.

7. Logical reasoning

Becoming a logical thinker means learning to observe and analyze situations to draw rational and objective conclusions. With logic, you can evaluate available facts, identify patterns or correlations, and use them to improve decision-making outcomes. If you’re looking to improve in this area, consider developing inductive and deductive reasoning skills.

8. Problem-solving

Problem-solving appears in all facets of your life — not just work. Effectively finding solutions to any issue takes analysis and logic, and you also need to take initiative with clear action plans . To improve your problem-solving skills , invest in developing visualization , collaboration, and goal-setting skills.

9. Research

Knowing how to locate information is just as valuable as understanding what to do with it. With research skills, you’ll recognize and collect data relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve or the initiative you’re trying to start. You can improve these skills by learning about data collection techniques, accuracy evaluation, and metrics.


You don’t need to earn a degree in data science to develop these skills. All it takes is time, practice, and commitment. Everything from work experience to hobbies can help you learn new things and make progress. Try a few of these ideas and stick with the ones you enjoy:

1. Document your skill set

The next time you encounter a problem and need to find solutions, take time to assess your process. Ask yourself:

  • What facts are you considering?
  • Do you ask for help or research on your own? What are your sources of advice?
  • What does your brainstorming process look like?
  • How do you make and execute a final decision?
  • Do you reflect on the outcomes of your choices to identify lessons and opportunities for improvement?
  • Are there any mistakes you find yourself making repeatedly?
  • What problems do you constantly solve easily? 

These questions can give insight into your analytical strengths and weaknesses and point you toward opportunities for growth.

2. Take courses

Many online and in-person courses can expand your logical thinking and analysis skills. They don’t necessarily have to involve information sciences. Just choose something that trains your brain and fills in your skills gaps . 

Consider studying philosophy to learn how to develop your arguments or public speaking to better communicate the results of your research. You could also work on your hard skills with tools like Microsoft Excel and learn how to crunch numbers effectively. Whatever you choose, you can explore different online courses or certification programs to upskill. 

3. Analyze everything

Spend time consciously and critically evaluating everything — your surroundings, work processes, and even the way you interact with others. Integrating analysis into your day-to-day helps you practice. The analytical part of your brain is like a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it’ll become. 

After reading a book, listening to a podcast, or watching a movie, take some time to analyze what you watched. What were the messages? What did you learn? How was it delivered? Taking this approach to media will help you apply it to other scenarios in your life. 

If you’re giving a presentation at work or helping your team upskill , use the opportunity to flex the analytical side of your brain. For effective teaching, you’ll need to process and analyze the topic thoroughly, which requires skills like logic and communication. You also have to analyze others’ learning styles and adjust your teachings to match them. 

5. Play games

Spend your commute or weekends working on your skills in a way you enjoy. Try doing logic games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles during work breaks to foster critical thinking. And you can also integrate analytical skills into your existing hobbies. According to researcher Rakesh Ghildiyal, even team sports like soccer or hockey will stretch your capacity for analysis and strategic thinking . 

6. Ask questions

According to a study in Tr ends in Cognitive Sciences, being curious improves cognitive function , helping you develop problem-solving skills, retention, and memory. Start speaking up in meetings and questioning the why and how of different decisions around you. You’ll think more critically and even help your team find breakthrough solutions they otherwise wouldn’t.

7.Seek advice

If you’re unsure what analytical skills you need to develop, try asking your manager or colleagues for feedback . Their outside perspective offers insight you might not find within, like patterns in. And if you’re looking for more consistent guidance, talking to a coach can help you spot weaknesses and set goals for the long term.

8. Pursue opportunities

Speak to your manager about participating in special projects that could help you develop and flex your skills. If you’d like to learn about SEO or market research, ask to shadow someone in the ecommerce or marketing departments. If you’re interested in business forecasting, talk to the data analysis team. Taking initiative demonstrates a desire to learn and shows leadership that you’re eager to grow. 


Shining a spotlight on your analytical skills can help you at any stage of your job search. But since they take many forms, it’s best to be specific and show potential employers exactly why and how they make you a better candidate. Here are a few ways you can showcase them to the fullest:

1. In your cover letter

Your cover letter crafts a narrative around your skills and work experience. Use it to tell a story about how you put your analytical skills to use to solve a problem or improve workflow. Make sure to include concrete details to explain your thought process and solution — just keep it concise. Relate it back to the job description to show the hiring manager or recruiter you have the qualifications necessary to succeed.

2. On your resume

Depending on the type of resume you’re writing, there are many opportunities to convey your analytical skills to a potential employer. You could include them in sections like: 

  • Professional summary: If you decide to include a summary, describe yourself as an analytical person or a problem-solver, whichever relates best to the job posting. 
  • Work experience: Describe all the ways your skill for analysis has helped you perform or go above and beyond your responsibilities. Be sure to include specific details about challenges and outcomes related to the role you’re applying for to show how you use those skills. 
  • Skills section: If your resume has a skill-specific section, itemize the analytical abilities you’ve developed over your career. These can include hard analytical skills like predictive modeling as well as interpersonal skills like communication.

3. During a job interview

As part of your interview preparation , list your professional accomplishments and the skills that helped along the way, such as problem-solving, data literacy, or strategic thinking. Then, pull them together into confident answers to common interview questions using the STAR method to give the interviewer a holistic picture of your skill set.

Developing analytical skills isn’t only helpful in the workplace. It’s essential to life. You’ll use them daily whenever you read the news, make a major purchase, or interact with others. Learning to critically evaluate information can benefit your relationships and help you feel more confident in your decisions, whether you’re weighing your personal budget or making a big career change .

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Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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4 Ways to Improve Your Analytical Skills

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  • 07 Jan 2021

Data is ubiquitous. It’s collected at every purchase made, flight taken, ad clicked, and social media post liked—which means it’s never been more crucial to understand how to analyze it.

“Never before has so much data about so many different things been collected and stored every second of every day,” says Harvard Business School Professor Jan Hammond in the online course Business Analytics .

The volume of data you encounter can be overwhelming and raise several questions: Can I trust the data’s source? Is it structured in a way that makes sense? What story does it tell, and what actions does it prompt?

Data literacy and analytical skills can enable you to answer these questions and not only make sense of raw data, but use it to drive impactful change at your organization.

Here’s a look at what it means to be data literate and four ways to improve your analytical skills.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Data Literacy?

Data literacy is the ability to analyze, interpret, and question data. A dataset is made up of numerous data points that, when viewed together, tell a story.

Before conducting an analysis, it’s important to ensure your data’s quality and structure is in accordance with your organization’s needs.

“In order to transform data into actionable information, you first need to evaluate its quality,” says Professor Dustin Tingley in the Harvard Online course Data Science Principles . “But evaluating the quality of your data is just the first step. You’ll also need to structure your data. Without structure, it’s nearly impossible to extract any information.”

When you’re able to look at quality data, structure it, and analyze it, trends emerge. The next step is to reflect on your analysis and take action.

Tingley shares several questions to ask yourself once you’ve analyzed your dataset: “Did all the steps I took make sense? If so, how should I respond to my analysis? If not, what should I go back and improve?”

For example, you may track users who click a button to download an e-book from your website.

After ensuring your data’s quality and structuring it in a way that makes sense, you begin your analysis and find that a user’s age is positively correlated with their likelihood to click. What story does this trend tell? What does it say about your users, product offering, and business strategy?

To answer these questions, you need strong analytical skills, which you can develop in several ways.

Related: Business Analytics: What It Is & Why It’s Important

How to Improve Your Analytical Skills

Analysis is an important skill to have in any industry because it enables you to support decisions with data, learn more about your customers, and predict future trends.

Key analytical skills for business include:

  • Visualizing data
  • Determining the relationship between two or more variables
  • Forming and testing hypotheses
  • Performing regressions using statistical programs, such as Microsoft Excel
  • Deriving actionable conclusions from data analysis

If you want to provide meaningful conclusions and data-based recommendations to your team, here are four ways to bolster your analytical skills.

Related: How to Learn Business Analytics Without A Business Background

1. Consider Opposing Viewpoints

While engaging with opposing viewpoints can help you expand your perspective, combat bias, and show your fellow employees their opinions are valued, it can also be a useful way to practice analytical skills.

When analyzing data, it’s crucial to consider all possible interpretations and avoid getting stuck in one way of thinking.

For instance, revisit the example of tracking users who click a button on your site to download an e-book. The data shows that the user’s age is positively correlated with their likelihood to click the button; as age increases, downloads increase, too. At first glance, you may interpret this trend to mean that a user chooses to download the e-book because of their age.

This conclusion, however, doesn’t take into consideration the vast number of variables that change with age. For instance, perhaps the real reason your older users are more likely to download the e-book is their higher level of responsibility at work, higher average income, or higher likelihood of being parents.

This example illustrates the need to consider multiple interpretations of data, and specifically shows the difference between correlation (the trending of two or more variables in the same direction) and causation (when a trend in one variable causes a trend to occur in one or more other variables).

“Data science is built on a foundation of critical thinking,” Tingley says in Data Science Principles . “From the first step of determining the quality of a data source to determining the accuracy of an algorithm, critical thinking is at the heart of every decision data scientists—and those who work with them—make.”

To practice this skill, challenge yourself to question your assumptions and ask others for their opinions. The more you actively engage with different viewpoints, the less likely you are to get stuck in a one-track mindset when analyzing data.

2. Play Games or Brain Teasers

If you’re looking to sharpen your skills on a daily basis, there are many simple, enjoyable ways to do so.

Games, puzzles, and stories that require visualizing relationships between variables, examining situations from multiple angles, and drawing conclusions from known data points can help you build the skills necessary to analyze data.

Some fun ways to practice analytical thinking include:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Mystery novels
  • Logic puzzles
  • Strategic board games or card games

These options can supplement your analytics coursework and on-the-job experience. Some of them also allow you to spend time with friends or family. Try engaging with one each day to hone your analytical mindset.

Related: 3 Examples of Business Analytics in Action

3. Take an Online Analytics Course

Whether you want to learn the basics, brush up on your skills, or expand your knowledge, taking an analytics course is an effective way to improve. A course can enable you to focus on the content you want to learn, engage with the material presented by a professional in the field, and network and interact with others in the data analytics space.

For a beginner, courses like Harvard Online's Data Science Principles can provide a foundation in the language of data. A more advanced course, like Harvard Online's Data Science for Business , may be a fit if you’re looking to explore specific facets of analytics, such as forecasting and machine learning. If you’re interested in hands-on applications of analytical formulas, a course like HBS Online's Business Analytics could be right for you. The key is to understand what skills you hope to gain, then find a course that best fits your needs.

If you’re balancing a full-time job with your analytics education, an online format may be a good choice . It offers the flexibility to engage with course content whenever and wherever is most convenient for you.

An online course may also present the opportunity to network and build relationships with other professionals devoted to strengthening their analytical skills. A community of like-minded learners can prove to be an invaluable resource as you learn and advance your career.

Related: Is An Online Business Analytics Course Worth It?

4. Engage With Data

Once you have a solid understanding of data science concepts and formulas, the next step is to practice. Like any skill, analytical skills improve the more you use them.

Mock datasets—which you can find online or create yourself—present a low-risk option for putting your skills to the test. Import the data into Microsoft Excel, then explore: make mistakes, try that formula you’re unsure of, and ask big questions of your dataset. By testing out different analyses, you can gain confidence in your knowledge.

Once you’re comfortable, engage with your organization’s data. Because these datasets have inherent meaning to your business's financial health, growth, and strategic direction, analyzing them can produce evidence and insights that support your decisions and drive change at your organization.

A Beginner's Guide to Data and Analytics | Access Your Free E-Book | Download Now

Investing in Your Data Literacy

As data continues to be one of businesses’ most valuable resources, taking the time and effort to build and bolster your analytical skill set is vital.

“Much more data are going to be available; we’re only seeing the beginning now,” Hammond says in a previous article . “If you don’t use the data, you’re going to fall behind. People that have those capabilities—as well as an understanding of business contexts—are going to be the ones that will add the most value and have the greatest impact.”

Are you interested in furthering your data literacy? Download our Beginner’s Guide to Data & Analytics to learn how you can leverage the power of data for professional and organizational success.

how to improve analytical problem solving skills

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Tips for Online Students , Tips for Students

How to Improve Your Analytical Skills

Updated: July 12, 2022

Published: April 27, 2021


Wondering how to improve your analytical skills? There are many skills that would make a person a desirable candidate when it comes time to look for work, and one that’s at the top of the list is your analytical thinking skills.

Analytical thinking skills allow people to make well-thought-out decisions — and in the workplace, this is a valuable skill that can ultimately save businesses time and money. Having reliable analytical skills can also lead to a smarter life in general.

You can attain analytical thinking skills in school, or improve on analytical thinking skills you already possess.

What Are Analytical Thinking Skills?

Every day, we make hundreds of decisions , whether it’s choosing what clothes to wear to work or what we should eat for dinner. But some decisions — like those we make in school or at the workplace — are harder to make, and require a person with strong analytical thinking skills.

Analytical thinking skills are not influenced by emotion, but rather by certain abilities that when utilized, allow a person to make an educated decision.


Visualization is characterized by a person’s ability to look at something — for instance, data collected over a long period of time — to predict what the outcome will be. This could involve looking at charts, pictures, graphs, or lists.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is just as it sounds. It’s a person’s ability to think critically about a decision, without letting personal emotions get in the way. It involves evaluating information and thinking outside of the box in order to find the most logical solution.

A large component of a person’s analytical thinking skills comes from their ability to, well, analyze. This means that you should have some computing skills, such as being able to make calculations and work with numbers in order to inform your decision.


Analytical thinking skills are not just making decisions, but finding solutions to complicated problems. It’s taking steps using strategies like trial and error, checking your work, and taking a step back if something doesn’t work the first time around, in order to achieve a goal as efficiently as possible.

Resource Management

A single person may not have all the answers on their own, but good analytical thinking skills means you know how to utilize your resources as best as possible to find what you’re looking for. This could mean feeling comfortable enough to call on someone who may know about a specific topic better than you do, or knowing where to find information that’s not easily accessible.

Paying Attention to Details

A person with good analytical thinking skills is very detail-oriented. They know how to find small details that others may not notice, which can end up being very useful in solving problems or coming up with big ideas.

How Does Analytical Thinking Help You?

Analytical thinking skills may be more desirable in some careers than others, but they can really be applied to any profession. They allow you to consider an idea or make a decision based more on facts, trends, and rationale than emotions, which is an important trait to have no matter what your job is. These skills are also important in your personal life, because they allow you to make smart choices short and long term.

Analytical Skills Make You Marketable

A person with analytical skills naturally becomes more marketable in the eyes of a human resources department. These skills can set you apart from the competition, making it easier to land a job.

Analytical Skills Make You a Better Problem Solver

Instead of just getting frustrated when there’s a problem to address, analytical skills give you the ability to solve problems more effectively and efficiently , based on data, history, research, and logical thinking.

Analytical Skills Encourage Critical Thinking

A person with analytical skills is able to translate them into critical thinking capabilities, which will come in handy when you have to weigh the pros and cons and consider the risks and rewards of any given decision.

Man thinking behind chessboard

How to Gain Analytical Skills in School

Analytical thinking skills are no doubt extremely useful when you enter the workforce. There’s no better place to gain these skills than in an academic setting. Or, in other words, school. With the right academic program, you will easily be presented with opportunities to learn analytical skills.

Participate in Analysis-Based Student Projects

In school, you should take on the opportunity to gain analytical skills by participating in an analysis-based student project. Here, you’ll have a chance to not only learn the skills necessary to complete the project, you’ll put those skills to the test every step of the way. Your professor will likely guide you through this, by assigning a project that asks you to call on analytical skills to solve problems.

Focus on the Analytical Skills Relevant to the Project

With a project, you’ll be able to see which analytical skills will be the most useful in completing your goal. Will you need more computing skills or more critical thinking skills? Or will these skills help you work with a complicated team member?

Practice Your Analytical Skills Regularly

Once you’ve gained analytical skills, whether through a project or other assignments in school, don’t forget to regularly practice those skills so that you don’t lose them! Honing in those analytical skills frequently will help you fine-tune them, so you’ll be prepared to use them when another situation calls for them.

Identify Analytical Tools and Resources That Can Help

If you’re struggling to solve a problem in one of your courses, there are various analytical tools, resources, and strategies that can help. For instance, something as simple as a mind-map can help you think about how you want to approach something before jumping into it.

Find Ways to Keep Improving Your Analytical Skills

Don’t be afraid to give yourself more opportunities to continuously improve your analytical skills. Take on your own projects and try to step out of your comfort zone to ask feedback on your work, thoughts, and ideas.

Female and male colleagues at a desk with laptops

While taking on a comprehensive project is a good way to learn and apply analytical skills through practice, there are other ways to improve your analytical skills.

Be Inquisitive

Asking questions regularly is a good way to improve your analytical thinking skills. Be curious about topics you aren’t familiar with, and look for answers by utilizing helpful resources.

Read More Frequently

Reading is a great way to improve your analytical thinking skills. No matter what genre you prefer, there are many ways to think about the characters, theme, plot, facts, or the author’s message that will sharpen your analytical skills.

Write Often

Reading and writing usually go hand-in-hand in many aspects of life, and it’s no different when it comes to analytical thinking skills. Pick up a pen and a notebook and write about anything that comes to mind. It could be a story, your feelings, or a journal entry recording your activities of the day. Getting ideas on paper helps to think about things more clearly.

Listen to Podcasts

Listening to podcasts about mindfulness, analytical thinking, and other related skills can help you improve your own, especially if you don’t have time to read or write.

Play Brain Games

Playing brain games is a great way to improve your analytical thinking skills. This could be in the form of logic puzzles, crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoku, etc. There are many apps available where you can do a little mind-work every day.

Exercise Your Body

In addition to exercising your brain, you should also exercise your body. Being in good, healthy shape can keep your mind sharp, which naturally improves analytical thinking skills.

Practice Problem Solving

Even though it’s good to sometimes let problems work themselves out, forcing yourself to problem solve in any situation you can will definitely make you a better analytical thinker long-term.

Meet Others and Have Discussions

One aspect of analytical thinking is to utilize resources and seek feedback from others. By socializing, attending conferences, studying together, or simply talking to other people, you can improve your analytical thinking skills.

how to improve analytical problem solving skills

Take Courses, Online Courses, and Use Analytical Tools

Taking academic or hands-on courses — not just on analytical thinking, but any topic — is a good idea if you want to improve your analytical thinking skills.

If you’re looking for a more direct answer to how to improve your analytical skills, University of the People (UoPeople) may be your answer. UoPeople allows students the opportunity to take courses online , which means you can work on your own time. The university also offers potential undergraduate certificate programs that can give one’s career the right boost. Best of all, we’re tuition-free and US accredited.

Remember to extract various analytical thinking tools, resources, and strategies to help you excel in your courses.

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Field Engineer

Analytical Skills: Why They Matter and How to Develop Them

Analytical skills involve collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information to solve problems. They are crucial in work and daily life, and can be developed through practice. This article explores their importance and ways to improve them.

Analytical Skills: Why They Matter and How to Develop Them

Have you ever wondered what analytical skills are and why they are important? Analytical skills are the ability to collect, analyze and interpret information to solve problems and make decisions. These skills are highly valued in the workplace and also in our daily lives.

In today's fast-paced world, we are constantly bombarded with information. Whether it's in the form of news, social media, or data, we need to be able to analyze and interpret this information to make informed decisions. Analytical skills are essential for success in many fields, including business, finance, science, and technology.

While some people may possess natural analytical skills, they can also be developed and improved with practice. In this article, we will explore what analytical skills are, why they are important, and how you can improve them. Whether you're looking to advance in your career or simply want to make better decisions in your personal life, enhancing your analytical skills can have a significant impact.

fieldengineer.com | Analytical Skills: Why They Matter and How to Develop Them

What are Analytical skills?

Analytical skills are vital for any successful professional seeking to provide quality solutions to problems. These skills involve the sharpness to detect patterns, formulate theories, and observe data for the detection of discrepancies or similarities. It requires organizing of information systematically gathered from facts and opinions leading to a logical conclusion or solution.

Analytical skills require the ability to identify the problem and its cause and correlate it with available data to discover an appropriate course of action or an optimal result.

Employers typically wish to see individuals with these increasingly important analytical skills when searching for job candidates. The individuals must demonstrate the capability of having good problem-solving abilities and applying them in creative ways that bring about a successful outcome.

This combination allows companies and organizations alike greater flexibility when faced with various problems and unique situations requiring quick solutions.

How Does Analytical Thinking Work?

Analytical skills are an essential component of many job roles today. They enable you to evaluate different scenarios to solve problems that may not have obvious answers and identify the most beneficial solution for your organization.

An example of such a problem can be seen in our restaurant manager, who has been going over budget on food for the past two weeks. After reviewing the menus, customer orders, and food costs from suppliers, they identified that seafood prices had risen due to supply chain disruption caused by bad weather.

Using their analytical skills, they could connect the dots between these variables. This enabled them to come up with a new strategy for dealing with this issue which involved talking to their seafood supplier and working out a new deal with them to bring costs back down.

This is just one example of how analytical skills can help people extensively in their day-to-day job roles, allowing them to make better decisions and produce more successful outcomes for their organization.

Why are Analytical Skills Important?

Analytical skills are vital in most professional environments and help ensure good decision-making. Analytical skills involve breaking down, analyzing, and debugging intricate puzzles or situations to find the best resolution for any problem. These skills are transferrable to different positions as they indicate a mindset that prioritizes the situation's unique factors.

This means they can be used across multiple sectors as employers look for those who can use their analytical thinking within the organization's specific context, such as marketing research analysts, management executives, budget planners, or financial managers.

Good analytical skills not only give an individual a competitive edge when it comes to career prospects but also aid in navigating interpersonal relationships revolving around one's job. Working with data is important for understanding how a team works together, how negotiations should be conducted, or simply brainstorming potential strategies for training employees or solutions for problems posed by outside contractors.

As a result, having highly developed analytical skills can give someone an advantage over their peers in career growth prospects and allow them to identify new opportunities owing to their experience.

Key Analytical Skills

Here are some key analytical skills that employers look for when assessing job candidates:


Problem-solving skills are essential for effectively tackling any situation. These skills involve the ability to navigate complex systems and identify possible solutions. After an issue has been identified, research needs to be conducted to understand the problem better and find potential solutions. The next step is using creative problem-solving skills to design a solution that could potentially work for all parties involved. It's important to consider other people’s input as well, so asking for feedback can also provide valuable insights into how effective a proposed solution is.

For example, if the manager of a recreation center wanted to introduce new exercise classes for members, they would need to determine which classes are popular among members and when the classes should take place. In this case, surveys could be used to collect data from the members and gain insight into everyone’s preferences. With the relevant data collected, problem-solving skills can then be utilized to create a workout schedule that meets the needs of both members and staff. To make sure the schedule works, it's also important to collect feedback from members on how effectively their needs were met with the new class schedule.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an essential skill for any business, no matter the size or scope. By utilizing critical thinking techniques, individuals and organizations can think outside the box to come up with innovative solutions to common problems. This is particularly true in terms of process-based systems, such as inventory management.

A great example of this would be a logistics company that has been using the same system for decades but could benefit from an updated approach. With critical thinking, an operations manager might identify areas where the existing system needs to be improved or replaced completely with something more efficient and cost-effective.

These are just some of the ways critical thinking can help businesses evolve beyond traditional practices and explore new approaches that will result in increased efficiencies. Through questioning preconceived notions and exploring new ideas, companies can hone their processes, innovate products and services, and ensure they remain viable in their respective markets.

Also, effective critical thinkers can potentially steer businesses away from costly blunders when making decisions that will affect people or resources. It is easy to see why strengthening an understanding of critical thinking is beneficial to highly successful businesses worldwide.

Analytical skills are key for many professional roles, but sometimes they alone aren’t enough. This is where creativity comes in. Creative thinking involves looking beyond traditional approaches and finding innovative solutions to problems. It gives analytical people the edge when it comes to big-picture thinking and problem-solving.

For instance, in the workplace, creativity could be used to devise a new product feature based on customer feedback or propose a data-driven presentation. Creativity is an important skill for many industries including data science, finance, marketing and more. With creative thinking, analytical minds can work smarter, not harder - combining their expertise with imagination to develop out-of-the-box solutions.

Examples of analytical creativity skills include ideation (generating creative ideas), innovation (turning those ideas into tangible solutions) and collaboration (working with others to bring a concept to life).

By improving analytical skills through creative thinking, professionals can bring unique value and perspective to their work and stand out in a crowded field.


Communication skills are an important asset to have when it comes to analytical thinking. Without the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, they wouldn't have any impact on a team. Breaking down complex analytical questions and data into more digestible pieces is a vital communication skill for teams to take away actionable insights.

For example, presenting data visualizations clearly and concisely can give team members an understanding of company performance or project progress. Similarly, verbal communication is important for taking the high-level findings from a statistical analysis and making them easily understandable for everyone.

When it comes to communicating analytical information to teams, storytelling is also key. By narrating the story behind data and its interpretation, you can make abstract concepts easier to comprehend as you bring it all together.

Research is often a vital part of finding solutions to problems and ensuring that the best way forward is chosen. It entails connecting with knowledgeable individuals, gathering facts from various internal and external sources, and understanding what data plays in solving the problem at hand.

Additionally, research in certain fields may involve running experiments or testing products or strategies as part of the greater research process. Overall, research skills involve being aware of which information sources are valuable or integral to finding a solution to a specific issue; this could mean vetting potential experts in an area of knowledge for consultation or seeking user insights through surveys and polls outside of an organization.

Along with giving one access to useful resources, strong research skills also involves understanding how all the pieces of data fit together so that a logical conclusion can be formed.

How to Improve Your Analytical Skills

Improving your analytical skills offers a wide range of benefits for your career. As one of the most sought-after qualities in the job market today, demonstrating your ability to think critically and objectively is key for setting yourself apart in an increasingly competitive hiring process. To maximize the impact of these skills, here are a few tips on cultivating your analytical capabilities and reinforcing their importance for future job opportunities.

First, seek out leadership roles that involve making tough decisions requiring a high level of thinking. Examples include positions such as project managers or administrators. In these roles, you’ll be encouraged to ask probing questions, brainstorm solutions, evaluate risks, and develop strategies accordingly.

Even if you don’t manage a team yet, there are plenty of ways to practice analytical thinking at all levels; consider tweaking tasks assigned by your team leader as an opportunity to apply creative approaches or suggest alternative solutions that might improve efficiency. Enrolling in data-driven decision-making classes can also help reinforce these concepts further by focusing on practical tools such as Excel spreadsheets or statistical methods used in business scenarios.

Keeping up-to-date with industry trends would ultimately allow you to stay informed about innovative approaches while consolidating fundamental concepts along the way.

Finally, stay on top of the latest methodologies and practices related to analytical thinking. Reading industry-specific articles or attending seminars can provide a great opportunity to learn about new ideas and trends in the field.

Additionally, consider reaching out to mentors or colleagues who are well-versed in this area for advice or guidance; having an experienced set of eyes review your work and provide feedback is invaluable in helping you make the best decisions and grasp the fundamentals of analytical thinking.

How to Highlight Your Analytical Skills

Analytical skills on your resume.

Analytical skills are an important asset for any job seeker to have on their resume. They can reflect a candidate’s problem-solving and critical thinking abilities, qualities that many employers value in a potential hire.

The most obvious way of adding analytical skills to your resume is to include them in your skills section. However, to show off your analytical expertise, make sure to utilize it in both your summary and professional history sections.

The summary section is a great place to showcase how you can employ analytical skills successfully. Describing an instance or success story showing off your problem-solving abilities can be invaluable when sought after by employers. This allows readers to get a snapshot of the types of challenges you faced previously and how you solved them using quantitative and qualitative data gathered from various sources.

Additionally, within the work experience section, providing details about particular projects you worked on as applicable can allow readers a better understanding of your ability with analytics.

Adding more detail here can further demonstrate your capacity for complex analysis and implementation of solutions based on analytics-driven sources of data.

Analytical Skills in an Interview

Interviewers often gauge applicants' analytical skills by how well they demonstrate them during the job interview. While this is particularly important for positions requiring a high degree of analysis, such as data analysts or software developers, it still applies to almost any job.

Employers want to know that applicants can think critically and make sound decisions.

To demonstrate analytical skills in an interview, utilize the STAR method when answering questions where you can highlight your abilities. The STAR method consists of identifying a Situation or Task, detailing Actions taken by yourself (or your team), and highlighting the Results that stem from those actions.

Explaining this all in detail shows employers how you were able to assess various factors and apply solutions resulting in positive outcomes. Furthermore, simple things like writing down notes during interviews to demonstrate the ability to gather relevant information and analyze it can also prove helpful.

Analytical skills are essential to many professional and personal tasks. They enable people to make sound decisions and think critically, which is important for many jobs and roles. Developing and showcasing these skills is important to increase the chances of success in any field. While it is important to demonstrate these skills on your resume, it is equally important to showcase them during the interview process as well.

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Growth Mind Academy

Analytical Thinking, Critical Analysis, and Problem Solving Guide

  • Post author: Samir Saif
  • Post published: September 5, 2023
  • Post category: marketing skills
  • Post comments: 4 Comments
  • Post last modified: November 10, 2023
  • Reading time: 9 mins read

Analytical thinking; is a mental process that entails dissecting an issue or situation into its constituent parts, investigating their relationships, and reaching conclusions based on facts and logic.

It is not about trusting instincts or making assumptions; rather, it is about studying details, recognizing patterns, and developing a full understanding. Whether you’re a seasoned professional, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a curious mind, improving analytical thinking can help you solve problems more effectively.

An image with a white background with Strategies to Enhance Analytical Thinking written above it

Table of Contents

Analytical Thinking’s Importance in Problem Solving

Certainly! Analytical thinking entails the capacity to gather pertinent information, critically assess evidence, and reach logical conclusions. It enables you to:

  • Identify Root Causes: Analytical thinking allows you to delve deeper into a problem to find the underlying causes rather than just addressing surface-level symptoms.
  • Reduce Risks: Analytical thinking can help discover potential risks and obstacles connected with various solutions. This kind of thinking encourages constant progress and the generation of new ideas.
  • Improve Communication: Analytical thinking enables you to deliver clear and well-structured explanations while giving answers to others.
  • Adaptability : Analytical thinking gives you a flexible attitude.
  • Learning and Development: Analytical thinking improves your cognitive skills, allowing you to learn from prior experiences and apply those lessons to new situations.
  • Problem Prevention: By examining previous difficulties, you can find trends and patterns.
  • Analytical thinking is, in essence, the foundation of effective problem-solving. It enables you to approach problems methodically, make well-informed judgments, and eventually get better results.

Key Components of Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is a multifaceted process including a beautifully woven tapestry of observation, inquiry, and logic. Engage your curiosity as you approach a complex task and see patterns emerge, similar to stars in the night sky.

These patterns direct your thinking toward greater comprehension. Your understanding grows as you progress, and your analytical thinking becomes a light of clarity, guiding people through the fog of complexity.

Your tapestry is complete as you approach the shores of conclusion, a tribute to the power of analytical thinking. Embrace your curiosity, navigate the waters of observation, and let the stars of logic guide you. Remember that the art of analytical thinking is a magnificent journey that leads to enlightenment.

Using analytical reasoning in real-life situations

An image with a white background with the words “Using analytical reasoning in real-life” written above it

Absolutely! Let’s get started with analytical thinking! Consider yourself in a busy city, attempting to discover the shortest route to your goal. Instead than taking the first option that comes to mind, you take a moment to think about your possibilities.

This is the initial stage in analytical thinking: evaluating the situation. As you contemplate, you balance the advantages and disadvantages of each route, taking into account issues such as traffic, distance, and potential bypasses. This information gathering approach assists you in making an informed decision.

Breaking down the problem

Then you go to the second phase, which entails breaking the problem down into smaller portions. You break down the difficult job of navigating the city into manageable components, much like a puzzle.

This technique allows you to identify future difficulties and devise creative solutions. For example, you may observe a construction zone on one route but recall a shortcut that may save you time.

Read Also:  Goal Alignment: Key Strategies for Success

Analyzing the information

You employ critical thinking to assess the material you’ve received as you go. As you consider the significance of each component—time, distance, and traffic—patterns and connections emerge.

You begin to make connections and discover that, while a faster route may appear enticing, heavy traffic at certain times of day might make it a frustrating experience.

Make a decision

Making a decision in the last step necessitates a complete comprehension of the circumstance as well as critical analysis. Analytical thinking entails investigating alternatives, comprehending nuances, and making informed decisions.

This approach can lead to optimal, well-thought-out, and adaptable solutions, whether navigating a city, tackling a complex project, or making life decisions. Analytic thinking allows one to make informed judgments that benefit both the situation and the individual.

Strategies to Enhance Analytical Thinking Skills

Developing strong analytical thinking abilities is a journey that opens up new possibilities for comprehension and issue solving.

Consider yourself on an exciting mental journey where every challenge is an opportunity for improvement. Here’s a step-by-step guide to cultivating and improving your analytical thinking talents.

Accept curiosity

Begin by embracing your curiosity. Allow your thoughts to roam, pondering about the hows and whys of the world around you.

Allow yourself to immerse yourself completely in the complexities of a complex topic, such as climate change. “What are the underlying causes of this phenomenon?” Two decent places to start are “How do different variables interact to shape its outcomes?”.

Improve your observing abilities

Then, put your observation abilities to the test. Pay close attention to details that would otherwise go undetected. Instead of just gazing at the colors and shapes, try to figure out the brushstrokes, the play of light and shadow, and the feelings they create, as if you were studying a painting.

When analyzing data, look underneath the surface figures for trends, anomalies, and patterns that can reveal hidden insights.

Accept critical thinking

Learn to think critically as you progress. Examine your assumptions and look for alternative points of view. Assume you’re looking into a business problem, such as declining sales.

Instead than jumping to conclusions, investigate the matter from all angles. Consider changes in the sector, client preferences, and even internal corporate processes. This broader viewpoint can lead to creative solutions.

Read Also:  Business Development: Strategies and Tips for Success

Experiment with logical reasoning

Also, practice logical reasoning. Improve your ability to connect the dots and build logical chains of reasoning. As if you were assembling a jigsaw puzzle, each piece must fit snugly into the whole.

Consider how numerous variables such as population growth, infrastructure, and transportation systems logically interconnect when dealing with a complex issue such as urban congestion.

Improve your problem-solving skills

Develop your problem-solving abilities as well. For example, if you’re struggling with a personal issue, such as time management, break it down into smaller components. Analyze your daily routine to discover bottlenecks and develop a strategy to overcome them.

Foster continuous learning

Finally, encourage ongoing learning by broadening your knowledge base and investigating new domains. Imagine yourself as a discerning thinker analyzing the world’s intricacies and unraveling secrets.

Remember that progress, not perfection, is the goal. Every task, question, and conundrum you solve puts you one step closer to being an analytical juggernaut. Continue to explore and study to see your critical thinking skills soar to new heights.

Applying analytical reasoning to work

Assume you are a business owner who wants to boost client happiness. An analytical thinker would collect and analyze client input to uncover frequent pain issues.

You can adopt targeted adjustments that address the fundamental causes of unhappiness by detecting patterns in feedback data.

How can you demonstrate analytical skills on a resume?

A photo with a white and yellow background with the words “demonstrate analytical skills on a resume” written above it

Analytical skills on your CV can set you apart and leave a lasting impression on potential employers. Make your CV into a canvas, describing specific instances where your analytical skills were put to use.

Share how you methodically dissected a challenging topic or situation, revealing insights that aided your decision-making.

If you were tasked with optimizing a company’s supply chain, for example, dig further into data on inventory levels, production rates, and distribution deadlines.

Explain how your study found a bottleneck in the distribution network, leading to a realignment suggestion that saved the organization time and money.

Storytelling is key. Create a fascinating story about how your analytical abilities helped solve a tough problem, demonstrating your abilities and attracting the reader.

Your CV should read like a motivational trip through your analytical abilities, inspiring companies with your future contributions to their organization.

What is a case study of analytical thinking?

Absolutely! Let me give you an excellent example of analytical thinking that perfectly expresses its essence. Maya, a young scientist in this example, is dedicated to discovering a long-term solution for safe drinking water in rural areas.

She performs extensive research on water supplies, toxins, and local circumstances, looking for patterns and anomalies. She develops the concept that heavy rains increase runoff, resulting in higher levels of water contamination.

Maya designs controlled experiments in a lab setting to test her idea, acquiring quantifiable information through manipulation and observation.

Maya’s investigation continues, and she explores the big picture, imagining a multi-faceted solution that involves rainwater gathering, enhanced filtration systems, and community education.

She anticipates problems and works with engineers, social workers, and community leaders to refine her ideas and ensure their viability.

Her journey exemplifies how analytical thinking can lead to transformational solutions, and it motivates us to tackle complex challenges with curiosity, diligence, and the hope that careful analysis may design a better future.

Final Thoughts

Analytical thinking is more than just a cognitive skill; it’s a mindset that empowers you to unravel complexity, make informed choices, and navigate challenges with confidence.

You will be better able to handle the intricacies of the modern world as your analytical thinking skills increase, whether in business, academics, or daily life. Accept the power of analytical thinking, and your decision-making and problem-solving abilities will soar.

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How to Improve Problem Solving Skills

Last Updated: January 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Erin Conlon, PCC, JD . Erin Conlon is an Executive Life Coach, the Founder of Erin Conlon Coaching, and the host of the podcast "This is Not Advice." She specializes in aiding leaders and executives to thrive in their career and personal lives. In addition to her private coaching practice, she teaches and trains coaches and develops and revises training materials to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. She holds a BA in Communications and History and a JD from The University of Michigan. Erin is a Professional Certified Coach with The International Coaching Federation. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 235,871 times.

The ability to solve problems applies to more than just mathematics homework. Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills are a part of many jobs, ranging from accounting and computer programming to detective work and even creative occupations like art, acting, and writing. While individual problems vary, there are certain general approaches to problem-solving like the one first proposed by mathematician George Polya in 1945. [1] X Research source By following his principles of understanding the problem, devising a plan, carrying out the plan, and looking back, you can improve your problem-solving and tackle any issue systematically.

Define the problem clearly.

This is an outwardly simple but vital step.

  • Try to formulate questions. Say that as a student you have very little money and want to find an effective solution. What is at issue? Is it one of income – are you not making enough money? Is it one of over-spending? Or perhaps you have run into unexpected expenses or your financial situation has changed?

State your objective.

This is another means to reach the nature of the problem.

  • Say that your problem is still money. What is your goal? Perhaps you never have enough to go out on the weekend and have fun at the movies or a club. You decide that your goal is to have more spending cash. Good! With a clear goal, you have better defined the problem.

Gather information systematically.

Gathering facts helps you get a clear picture of your problem and goal.

  • To solve your money shortage, for example, you would want to get as detailed a picture of your financial situation as possible. Collect data through your latest bank statements and to talk to a bank teller. Track your earnings and spending habits in a notebook, and then create a spreadsheet or chart to show your income alongside your expenditures.

Analyze information.

Looking for links and relationships in your data can help you better understand your situation.

  • Say you have now collected all your bank statements. Look at them. When, how, and from where is your money coming? Where, when, and how are you spending it? What is the overall pattern of your finances? Do you have a net surplus or deficit? Are there any unexplained items?

Generate possible solutions.

This is a great time to consider all of your options.

  • Your problem is a lack of money. Your goal is to have more spending cash. What are your options? Without evaluating them, come up with possible options. Perhaps you can acquire more money by getting a part-time job or by taking out a student loan. On the other hand, you might try to save by cutting your spending or by lowering other costs.
  • Divide and conquer. Break the problem into smaller problems and brainstorm solutions for them separately, one by one.
  • Use analogies and similarities. Try to find a resemblance with a previously solved or common problem. If you can find commonalities between your situation and one you've dealt with before, you may be able to adapt some of the solutions for use now.

Evaluate the solutions and choose.

A thorough analysis helps you make the best possible choice.

  • How can you raise money? Look at expenditures – you aren’t spending much outside of basic needs like tuition, food, and housing. Can you cut costs in other ways like finding a roommate to split rent? Can you afford to take a student loan just to have fun on the weekend? Can you spare time from your studies to work part-time?
  • Each solution will produce its own set of circumstances that need evaluation. Run projections. Your money problem will require you to draw up budgets. But it will also take personal consideration. For example, can you cut back on basic things like food or housing? Are you willing to prioritize money over school or to take on debt?

Implement a solution.

This gives you a chance to see how effective your solution really is.

  • You decide to cut costs, because you were unwilling to take on debt, to divert time away from school, or to live with a roommate. You draw up a detailed budget, cutting a few dollars here and there, and commit to a month-long trial.

Review and evaluate the outcome.

Ask yourself if the solution is working, or if it needs to be adjusted.

  • The results of your trial are mixed. On one hand, you have saved enough during the month for fun weekend activities. But there are new problems. You find that you must choose between spending cash and buying basics like food. You also need a new pair of shoes but can’t afford it, according to your budget. You may need to a different solution.

Adjust if necessary.

It’s okay if your first solution doesn’t work out.

  • After a month, you decide to abandon your first budget and to look for part-time work. You find a work-study job on campus. Making a new budget, you now have extra money without taking too much time away from your studies. You may have an effective solution.

Do regular mental exercises.

Like a muscle in your body, you will need to work on problem solving regularly.

  • Word games work great. In a game like “Split Words,” for example, you have to match word fragments to form words under a given theme like “philosophy.” In the game, “Tower of Babel,” you will need to memorize and then match words in a foreign language to the proper picture.
  • Mathematical games will also put your problem solving to the test. Whether it be number or word problems, you will have to activate the parts of your brain that analyze information. For instance: “James is half as old now as he will be when he is 60 years older than he was six years before he was half as old as he is now. How old will James be when his age is twice what it was 10 years after he was half his current age?”

Play video games.

New research shows that playing video games can improve parts of your thinking.

  • Play something that will force you to think strategically or analytically. Try a puzzle game like Tetris. Or, perhaps you would rather prefer a role-playing or strategy game. In that case, something like “Civilization” or “Sim-City” might suit you better.

Take up a hobby.

A hobby is another way that you can continue to improve your problem solving skills.

  • Web design, software programming, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, and chess are also hobbies that will force you to think strategically and systematically. Any of these will help you improve your overall problem solving.

Expert Q&A

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Deal With Problems

  • ↑ https://math.berkeley.edu/~gmelvin/polya.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Problem-solving
  • ↑ https://asq.org/quality-resources/problem-solving
  • ↑ https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/evaluate/evaluate-community-interventions/collect-analyze-data/main
  • ↑ https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_96.htm
  • ↑ https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/problem-solving.html
  • ↑ Erin Conlon, PCC, JD. Executive Life Coach. Expert Interview. 31 August 2021.
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930973/
  • ↑ https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/13/mental-exercises-to-keep-your-brain-sharp
  • ↑ https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/02/video-game
  • ↑ https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05449-7

About This Article

Erin Conlon, PCC, JD

To improve your problem-solving skills, start by clearly defining the problem and your objective or goal. Next, gather as much information as you can about the problem and organize the data by rewording, condensing, or summarizing it. Then, analyze the information you've gathered, looking for important links, patterns, and relationships in the data. Finally, brainstorm possible solutions, evaluate the solutions, and choose one to implement. For tips on implementing solutions successfully, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Effective problem solving is all about using the right process and following a plan tailored to the issue at hand. Recognizing your team or organization has an issue isn’t enough to come up with effective problem solving strategies. 

To truly understand a problem and develop appropriate solutions, you will want to follow a solid process, follow the necessary problem solving steps, and bring all of your problem solving skills to the table.  

We’ll first guide you through the seven step problem solving process you and your team can use to effectively solve complex business challenges. We’ll also look at what problem solving strategies you can employ with your team when looking for a way to approach the process. We’ll then discuss the problem solving skills you need to be more effective at solving problems, complete with an activity from the SessionLab library you can use to develop that skill in your team.

Let’s get to it! 

What is a problem solving process?

  • What are the problem solving steps I need to follow?

Problem solving strategies

What skills do i need to be an effective problem solver, how can i improve my problem solving skills.

Solving problems is like baking a cake. You can go straight into the kitchen without a recipe or the right ingredients and do your best, but the end result is unlikely to be very tasty!

Using a process to bake a cake allows you to use the best ingredients without waste, collect the right tools, account for allergies, decide whether it is a birthday or wedding cake, and then bake efficiently and on time. The result is a better cake that is fit for purpose, tastes better and has created less mess in the kitchen. Also, it should have chocolate sprinkles. Having a step by step process to solve organizational problems allows you to go through each stage methodically and ensure you are trying to solve the right problems and select the most appropriate, effective solutions.

What are the problem solving steps I need to follow? 

All problem solving processes go through a number of steps in order to move from identifying a problem to resolving it.

Depending on your problem solving model and who you ask, there can be anything between four and nine problem solving steps you should follow in order to find the right solution. Whatever framework you and your group use, there are some key items that should be addressed in order to have an effective process.

We’ve looked at problem solving processes from sources such as the American Society for Quality and their four step approach , and Mediate ‘s six step process. By reflecting on those and our own problem solving processes, we’ve come up with a sequence of seven problem solving steps we feel best covers everything you need in order to effectively solve problems.

seven step problem solving process

1. Problem identification 

The first stage of any problem solving process is to identify the problem or problems you might want to solve. Effective problem solving strategies always begin by allowing a group scope to articulate what they believe the problem to be and then coming to some consensus over which problem they approach first. Problem solving activities used at this stage often have a focus on creating frank, open discussion so that potential problems can be brought to the surface.

2. Problem analysis 

Though this step is not a million miles from problem identification, problem analysis deserves to be considered separately. It can often be an overlooked part of the process and is instrumental when it comes to developing effective solutions.

The process of problem analysis means ensuring that the problem you are seeking to solve is the right problem . As part of this stage, you may look deeper and try to find the root cause of a specific problem at a team or organizational level.

Remember that problem solving strategies should not only be focused on putting out fires in the short term but developing long term solutions that deal with the root cause of organizational challenges. 

Whatever your approach, analyzing a problem is crucial in being able to select an appropriate solution and the problem solving skills deployed in this stage are beneficial for the rest of the process and ensuring the solutions you create are fit for purpose.

3. Solution generation

Once your group has nailed down the particulars of the problem you wish to solve, you want to encourage a free flow of ideas connecting to solving that problem. This can take the form of problem solving games that encourage creative thinking or problem solving activities designed to produce working prototypes of possible solutions. 

The key to ensuring the success of this stage of the problem solving process is to encourage quick, creative thinking and create an open space where all ideas are considered. The best solutions can come from unlikely places and by using problem solving techniques that celebrate invention, you might come up with solution gold. 

4. Solution development

No solution is likely to be perfect right out of the gate. It’s important to discuss and develop the solutions your group has come up with over the course of following the previous problem solving steps in order to arrive at the best possible solution. Problem solving games used in this stage involve lots of critical thinking, measuring potential effort and impact, and looking at possible solutions analytically. 

During this stage, you will often ask your team to iterate and improve upon your frontrunning solutions and develop them further. Remember that problem solving strategies always benefit from a multitude of voices and opinions, and not to let ego get involved when it comes to choosing which solutions to develop and take further.

Finding the best solution is the goal of all problem solving workshops and here is the place to ensure that your solution is well thought out, sufficiently robust and fit for purpose. 

5. Decision making 

Nearly there! Once your group has reached consensus and selected a solution that applies to the problem at hand you have some decisions to make. You will want to work on allocating ownership of the project, figure out who will do what, how the success of the solution will be measured and decide the next course of action.

The decision making stage is a part of the problem solving process that can get missed or taken as for granted. Fail to properly allocate roles and plan out how a solution will actually be implemented and it less likely to be successful in solving the problem.

Have clear accountabilities, actions, timeframes, and follow-ups. Make these decisions and set clear next-steps in the problem solving workshop so that everyone is aligned and you can move forward effectively as a group. 

Ensuring that you plan for the roll-out of a solution is one of the most important problem solving steps. Without adequate planning or oversight, it can prove impossible to measure success or iterate further if the problem was not solved. 

6. Solution implementation 

This is what we were waiting for! All problem solving strategies have the end goal of implementing a solution and solving a problem in mind. 

Remember that in order for any solution to be successful, you need to help your group through all of the previous problem solving steps thoughtfully. Only then can you ensure that you are solving the right problem but also that you have developed the correct solution and can then successfully implement and measure the impact of that solution.

Project management and communication skills are key here – your solution may need to adjust when out in the wild or you might discover new challenges along the way.

7. Solution evaluation 

So you and your team developed a great solution to a problem and have a gut feeling its been solved. Work done, right? Wrong. All problem solving strategies benefit from evaluation, consideration, and feedback. You might find that the solution does not work for everyone, might create new problems, or is potentially so successful that you will want to roll it out to larger teams or as part of other initiatives. 

None of that is possible without taking the time to evaluate the success of the solution you developed in your problem solving model and adjust if necessary.

Remember that the problem solving process is often iterative and it can be common to not solve complex issues on the first try. Even when this is the case, you and your team will have generated learning that will be important for future problem solving workshops or in other parts of the organization. 

It’s worth underlining how important record keeping is throughout the problem solving process. If a solution didn’t work, you need to have the data and records to see why that was the case. If you go back to the drawing board, notes from the previous workshop can help save time. Data and insight is invaluable at every stage of the problem solving process and this one is no different.

Problem solving workshops made easy

how to improve analytical problem solving skills

Problem solving strategies are methods of approaching and facilitating the process of problem-solving with a set of techniques , actions, and processes. Different strategies are more effective if you are trying to solve broad problems such as achieving higher growth versus more focused problems like, how do we improve our customer onboarding process?

Broadly, the problem solving steps outlined above should be included in any problem solving strategy though choosing where to focus your time and what approaches should be taken is where they begin to differ. You might find that some strategies ask for the problem identification to be done prior to the session or that everything happens in the course of a one day workshop.

The key similarity is that all good problem solving strategies are structured and designed. Four hours of open discussion is never going to be as productive as a four-hour workshop designed to lead a group through a problem solving process.

Good problem solving strategies are tailored to the team, organization and problem you will be attempting to solve. Here are some example problem solving strategies you can learn from or use to get started.

Use a workshop to lead a team through a group process

Often, the first step to solving problems or organizational challenges is bringing a group together effectively. Most teams have the tools, knowledge, and expertise necessary to solve their challenges – they just need some guidance in how to use leverage those skills and a structure and format that allows people to focus their energies.

Facilitated workshops are one of the most effective ways of solving problems of any scale. By designing and planning your workshop carefully, you can tailor the approach and scope to best fit the needs of your team and organization. 

Problem solving workshop

  • Creating a bespoke, tailored process
  • Tackling problems of any size
  • Building in-house workshop ability and encouraging their use

Workshops are an effective strategy for solving problems. By using tried and test facilitation techniques and methods, you can design and deliver a workshop that is perfectly suited to the unique variables of your organization. You may only have the capacity for a half-day workshop and so need a problem solving process to match. 

By using our session planner tool and importing methods from our library of 700+ facilitation techniques, you can create the right problem solving workshop for your team. It might be that you want to encourage creative thinking or look at things from a new angle to unblock your groups approach to problem solving. By tailoring your workshop design to the purpose, you can help ensure great results.

One of the main benefits of a workshop is the structured approach to problem solving. Not only does this mean that the workshop itself will be successful, but many of the methods and techniques will help your team improve their working processes outside of the workshop. 

We believe that workshops are one of the best tools you can use to improve the way your team works together. Start with a problem solving workshop and then see what team building, culture or design workshops can do for your organization!

Run a design sprint

Great for: 

  • aligning large, multi-discipline teams
  • quickly designing and testing solutions
  • tackling large, complex organizational challenges and breaking them down into smaller tasks

By using design thinking principles and methods, a design sprint is a great way of identifying, prioritizing and prototyping solutions to long term challenges that can help solve major organizational problems with quick action and measurable results.

Some familiarity with design thinking is useful, though not integral, and this strategy can really help a team align if there is some discussion around which problems should be approached first. 

The stage-based structure of the design sprint is also very useful for teams new to design thinking.  The inspiration phase, where you look to competitors that have solved your problem, and the rapid prototyping and testing phases are great for introducing new concepts that will benefit a team in all their future work. 

It can be common for teams to look inward for solutions and so looking to the market for solutions you can iterate on can be very productive. Instilling an agile prototyping and testing mindset can also be great when helping teams move forwards – generating and testing solutions quickly can help save time in the long run and is also pretty exciting!

Break problems down into smaller issues

Organizational challenges and problems are often complicated and large scale in nature. Sometimes, trying to resolve such an issue in one swoop is simply unachievable or overwhelming. Try breaking down such problems into smaller issues that you can work on step by step. You may not be able to solve the problem of churning customers off the bat, but you can work with your team to identify smaller effort but high impact elements and work on those first.

This problem solving strategy can help a team generate momentum, prioritize and get some easy wins. It’s also a great strategy to employ with teams who are just beginning to learn how to approach the problem solving process. If you want some insight into a way to employ this strategy, we recommend looking at our design sprint template below!

Use guiding frameworks or try new methodologies

Some problems are best solved by introducing a major shift in perspective or by using new methodologies that encourage your team to think differently.

Props and tools such as Methodkit , which uses a card-based toolkit for facilitation, or Lego Serious Play can be great ways to engage your team and find an inclusive, democratic problem solving strategy. Remember that play and creativity are great tools for achieving change and whatever the challenge, engaging your participants can be very effective where other strategies may have failed.

LEGO Serious Play

  • Improving core problem solving skills
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Encouraging creative solutions

LEGO Serious Play is a problem solving methodology designed to get participants thinking differently by using 3D models and kinesthetic learning styles. By physically building LEGO models based on questions and exercises, participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and create their own responses. 

Collaborate LEGO Serious Play exercises are also used to encourage communication and build problem solving skills in a group. By using this problem solving process, you can often help different kinds of learners and personality types contribute and unblock organizational problems with creative thinking. 

Problem solving strategies like LEGO Serious Play are super effective at helping a team solve more skills-based problems such as communication between teams or a lack of creative thinking. Some problems are not suited to LEGO Serious Play and require a different problem solving strategy.

Card Decks and Method Kits

  • New facilitators or non-facilitators 
  • Approaching difficult subjects with a simple, creative framework
  • Engaging those with varied learning styles

Card decks and method kids are great tools for those new to facilitation or for whom facilitation is not the primary role. Card decks such as the emotional culture deck can be used for complete workshops and in many cases, can be used right out of the box. Methodkit has a variety of kits designed for scenarios ranging from personal development through to personas and global challenges so you can find the right deck for your particular needs.

Having an easy to use framework that encourages creativity or a new approach can take some of the friction or planning difficulties out of the workshop process and energize a team in any setting. Simplicity is the key with these methods. By ensuring everyone on your team can get involved and engage with the process as quickly as possible can really contribute to the success of your problem solving strategy.

Source external advice

Looking to peers, experts and external facilitators can be a great way of approaching the problem solving process. Your team may not have the necessary expertise, insights of experience to tackle some issues, or you might simply benefit from a fresh perspective. Some problems may require bringing together an entire team, and coaching managers or team members individually might be the right approach. Remember that not all problems are best resolved in the same manner.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur, peer groups, coaches and mentors can also be invaluable at not only solving specific business problems, but in providing a support network for resolving future challenges. One great approach is to join a Mastermind Group and link up with like-minded individuals and all grow together. Remember that however you approach the sourcing of external advice, do so thoughtfully, respectfully and honestly. Reciprocate where you can and prepare to be surprised by just how kind and helpful your peers can be!

Mastermind Group

  • Solo entrepreneurs or small teams with low capacity
  • Peer learning and gaining outside expertise
  • Getting multiple external points of view quickly

Problem solving in large organizations with lots of skilled team members is one thing, but how about if you work for yourself or in a very small team without the capacity to get the most from a design sprint or LEGO Serious Play session? 

A mastermind group – sometimes known as a peer advisory board – is where a group of people come together to support one another in their own goals, challenges, and businesses. Each participant comes to the group with their own purpose and the other members of the group will help them create solutions, brainstorm ideas, and support one another. 

Mastermind groups are very effective in creating an energized, supportive atmosphere that can deliver meaningful results. Learning from peers from outside of your organization or industry can really help unlock new ways of thinking and drive growth. Access to the experience and skills of your peers can be invaluable in helping fill the gaps in your own ability, particularly in young companies.

A mastermind group is a great solution for solo entrepreneurs, small teams, or for organizations that feel that external expertise or fresh perspectives will be beneficial for them. It is worth noting that Mastermind groups are often only as good as the participants and what they can bring to the group. Participants need to be committed, engaged and understand how to work in this context. 

Coaching and mentoring

  • Focused learning and development
  • Filling skills gaps
  • Working on a range of challenges over time

Receiving advice from a business coach or building a mentor/mentee relationship can be an effective way of resolving certain challenges. The one-to-one format of most coaching and mentor relationships can really help solve the challenges those individuals are having and benefit the organization as a result.

A great mentor can be invaluable when it comes to spotting potential problems before they arise and coming to understand a mentee very well has a host of other business benefits. You might run an internal mentorship program to help develop your team’s problem solving skills and strategies or as part of a large learning and development program. External coaches can also be an important part of your problem solving strategy, filling skills gaps for your management team or helping with specific business issues. 

Now we’ve explored the problem solving process and the steps you will want to go through in order to have an effective session, let’s look at the skills you and your team need to be more effective problem solvers.

Problem solving skills are highly sought after, whatever industry or team you work in. Organizations are keen to employ people who are able to approach problems thoughtfully and find strong, realistic solutions. Whether you are a facilitator , a team leader or a developer, being an effective problem solver is a skill you’ll want to develop.

Problem solving skills form a whole suite of techniques and approaches that an individual uses to not only identify problems but to discuss them productively before then developing appropriate solutions.

Here are some of the most important problem solving skills everyone from executives to junior staff members should learn. We’ve also included an activity or exercise from the SessionLab library that can help you and your team develop that skill. 

If you’re running a workshop or training session to try and improve problem solving skills in your team, try using these methods to supercharge your process!

Problem solving skills checklist

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills anyone who works with people can possess. In short, active listening is a technique used to not only better understand what is being said by an individual, but also to be more aware of the underlying message the speaker is trying to convey. When it comes to problem solving, active listening is integral for understanding the position of every participant and to clarify the challenges, ideas and solutions they bring to the table.

Some active listening skills include:

  • Paying complete attention to the speaker.
  • Removing distractions.
  • Avoid interruption.
  • Taking the time to fully understand before preparing a rebuttal.
  • Responding respectfully and appropriately.
  • Demonstrate attentiveness and positivity with an open posture, making eye contact with the speaker, smiling and nodding if appropriate. Show that you are listening and encourage them to continue.
  • Be aware of and respectful of feelings. Judge the situation and respond appropriately. You can disagree without being disrespectful.   
  • Observe body language. 
  • Paraphrase what was said in your own words, either mentally or verbally.
  • Remain neutral. 
  • Reflect and take a moment before responding.
  • Ask deeper questions based on what is said and clarify points where necessary.   
Active Listening   #hyperisland   #skills   #active listening   #remote-friendly   This activity supports participants to reflect on a question and generate their own solutions using simple principles of active listening and peer coaching. It’s an excellent introduction to active listening but can also be used with groups that are already familiar with it. Participants work in groups of three and take turns being: “the subject”, the listener, and the observer.

Analytical skills

All problem solving models require strong analytical skills, particularly during the beginning of the process and when it comes to analyzing how solutions have performed.

Analytical skills are primarily focused on performing an effective analysis by collecting, studying and parsing data related to a problem or opportunity. 

It often involves spotting patterns, being able to see things from different perspectives and using observable facts and data to make suggestions or produce insight. 

Analytical skills are also important at every stage of the problem solving process and by having these skills, you can ensure that any ideas or solutions you create or backed up analytically and have been sufficiently thought out.

Nine Whys   #innovation   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   With breathtaking simplicity, you can rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work. You can quickly reveal when a compelling purpose is missing in a gathering and avoid moving forward without clarity. When a group discovers an unambiguous shared purpose, more freedom and more responsibility are unleashed. You have laid the foundation for spreading and scaling innovations with fidelity.


Trying to solve problems on your own is difficult. Being able to collaborate effectively, with a free exchange of ideas, to delegate and be a productive member of a team is hugely important to all problem solving strategies.

Remember that whatever your role, collaboration is integral, and in a problem solving process, you are all working together to find the best solution for everyone. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing   #teamwork   #team   #leadership   #collaboration   In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.


Being an effective communicator means being empathetic, clear and succinct, asking the right questions, and demonstrating active listening skills throughout any discussion or meeting. 

In a problem solving setting, you need to communicate well in order to progress through each stage of the process effectively. As a team leader, it may also fall to you to facilitate communication between parties who may not see eye to eye. Effective communication also means helping others to express themselves and be heard in a group.

Bus Trip   #feedback   #communication   #appreciation   #closing   #thiagi   #team   This is one of my favourite feedback games. I use Bus Trip at the end of a training session or a meeting, and I use it all the time. The game creates a massive amount of energy with lots of smiles, laughs, and sometimes even a teardrop or two.

Creative problem solving skills can be some of the best tools in your arsenal. Thinking creatively, being able to generate lots of ideas and come up with out of the box solutions is useful at every step of the process. 

The kinds of problems you will likely discuss in a problem solving workshop are often difficult to solve, and by approaching things in a fresh, creative manner, you can often create more innovative solutions.

Having practical creative skills is also a boon when it comes to problem solving. If you can help create quality design sketches and prototypes in record time, it can help bring a team to alignment more quickly or provide a base for further iteration.

The paper clip method   #sharing   #creativity   #warm up   #idea generation   #brainstorming   The power of brainstorming. A training for project leaders, creativity training, and to catalyse getting new solutions.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is one of the fundamental problem solving skills you’ll want to develop when working on developing solutions. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, rationalize and evaluate while being aware of personal bias, outlying factors and remaining open-minded.

Defining and analyzing problems without deploying critical thinking skills can mean you and your team go down the wrong path. Developing solutions to complex issues requires critical thinking too – ensuring your team considers all possibilities and rationally evaluating them. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Data analysis 

Though it shares lots of space with general analytical skills, data analysis skills are something you want to cultivate in their own right in order to be an effective problem solver.

Being good at data analysis doesn’t just mean being able to find insights from data, but also selecting the appropriate data for a given issue, interpreting it effectively and knowing how to model and present that data. Depending on the problem at hand, it might also include a working knowledge of specific data analysis tools and procedures. 

Having a solid grasp of data analysis techniques is useful if you’re leading a problem solving workshop but if you’re not an expert, don’t worry. Bring people into the group who has this skill set and help your team be more effective as a result.

Decision making

All problems need a solution and all solutions require that someone make the decision to implement them. Without strong decision making skills, teams can become bogged down in discussion and less effective as a result. 

Making decisions is a key part of the problem solving process. It’s important to remember that decision making is not restricted to the leadership team. Every staff member makes decisions every day and developing these skills ensures that your team is able to solve problems at any scale. Remember that making decisions does not mean leaping to the first solution but weighing up the options and coming to an informed, well thought out solution to any given problem that works for the whole team.

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow


Most complex organizational problems require multiple people to be involved in delivering the solution. Ensuring that the team and organization can depend on you to take the necessary actions and communicate where necessary is key to ensuring problems are solved effectively.

Being dependable also means working to deadlines and to brief. It is often a matter of creating trust in a team so that everyone can depend on one another to complete the agreed actions in the agreed time frame so that the team can move forward together. Being undependable can create problems of friction and can limit the effectiveness of your solutions so be sure to bear this in mind throughout a project. 

Team Purpose & Culture   #team   #hyperisland   #culture   #remote-friendly   This is an essential process designed to help teams define their purpose (why they exist) and their culture (how they work together to achieve that purpose). Defining these two things will help any team to be more focused and aligned. With support of tangible examples from other companies, the team members work as individuals and a group to codify the way they work together. The goal is a visual manifestation of both the purpose and culture that can be put up in the team’s work space.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important skill for any successful team member, whether communicating internally or with clients or users. In the problem solving process, emotional intelligence means being attuned to how people are feeling and thinking, communicating effectively and being self-aware of what you bring to a room. 

There are often differences of opinion when working through problem solving processes, and it can be easy to let things become impassioned or combative. Developing your emotional intelligence means being empathetic to your colleagues and managing your own emotions throughout the problem and solution process. Be kind, be thoughtful and put your points across care and attention. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a skill for life and by deploying it at work, you can not only work efficiently but empathetically. Check out the emotional culture workshop template for more!


As we’ve clarified in our facilitation skills post, facilitation is the art of leading people through processes towards agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership, and creativity by all those involved. While facilitation is a set of interrelated skills in itself, the broad definition of facilitation can be invaluable when it comes to problem solving. Leading a team through a problem solving process is made more effective if you improve and utilize facilitation skills – whether you’re a manager, team leader or external stakeholder.

The Six Thinking Hats   #creative thinking   #meeting facilitation   #problem solving   #issue resolution   #idea generation   #conflict resolution   The Six Thinking Hats are used by individuals and groups to separate out conflicting styles of thinking. They enable and encourage a group of people to think constructively together in exploring and implementing change, rather than using argument to fight over who is right and who is wrong.


Being flexible is a vital skill when it comes to problem solving. This does not mean immediately bowing to pressure or changing your opinion quickly: instead, being flexible is all about seeing things from new perspectives, receiving new information and factoring it into your thought process.

Flexibility is also important when it comes to rolling out solutions. It might be that other organizational projects have greater priority or require the same resources as your chosen solution. Being flexible means understanding needs and challenges across the team and being open to shifting or arranging your own schedule as necessary. Again, this does not mean immediately making way for other projects. It’s about articulating your own needs, understanding the needs of others and being able to come to a meaningful compromise.

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

Working in any group can lead to unconscious elements of groupthink or situations in which you may not wish to be entirely honest. Disagreeing with the opinions of the executive team or wishing to save the feelings of a coworker can be tricky to navigate, but being honest is absolutely vital when to comes to developing effective solutions and ensuring your voice is heard. 

Remember that being honest does not mean being brutally candid. You can deliver your honest feedback and opinions thoughtfully and without creating friction by using other skills such as emotional intelligence. 

Explore your Values   #hyperisland   #skills   #values   #remote-friendly   Your Values is an exercise for participants to explore what their most important values are. It’s done in an intuitive and rapid way to encourage participants to follow their intuitive feeling rather than over-thinking and finding the “correct” values. It is a good exercise to use to initiate reflection and dialogue around personal values.


The problem solving process is multi-faceted and requires different approaches at certain points of the process. Taking initiative to bring problems to the attention of the team, collect data or lead the solution creating process is always valuable. You might even roadtest your own small scale solutions or brainstorm before a session. Taking initiative is particularly effective if you have good deal of knowledge in that area or have ownership of a particular project and want to get things kickstarted.

That said, be sure to remember to honor the process and work in service of the team. If you are asked to own one part of the problem solving process and you don’t complete that task because your initiative leads you to work on something else, that’s not an effective method of solving business challenges.

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.


A particularly useful problem solving skill for product owners or managers is the ability to remain impartial throughout much of the process. In practice, this means treating all points of view and ideas brought forward in a meeting equally and ensuring that your own areas of interest or ownership are not favored over others. 

There may be a stage in the process where a decision maker has to weigh the cost and ROI of possible solutions against the company roadmap though even then, ensuring that the decision made is based on merit and not personal opinion. 

Empathy map   #frame insights   #create   #design   #issue analysis   An empathy map is a tool to help a design team to empathize with the people they are designing for. You can make an empathy map for a group of people or for a persona. To be used after doing personas when more insights are needed.

Being a good leader means getting a team aligned, energized and focused around a common goal. In the problem solving process, strong leadership helps ensure that the process is efficient, that any conflicts are resolved and that a team is managed in the direction of success.

It’s common for managers or executives to assume this role in a problem solving workshop, though it’s important that the leader maintains impartiality and does not bulldoze the group in a particular direction. Remember that good leadership means working in service of the purpose and team and ensuring the workshop is a safe space for employees of any level to contribute. Take a look at our leadership games and activities post for more exercises and methods to help improve leadership in your organization.

Leadership Pizza   #leadership   #team   #remote-friendly   This leadership development activity offers a self-assessment framework for people to first identify what skills, attributes and attitudes they find important for effective leadership, and then assess their own development and initiate goal setting.

In the context of problem solving, mediation is important in keeping a team engaged, happy and free of conflict. When leading or facilitating a problem solving workshop, you are likely to run into differences of opinion. Depending on the nature of the problem, certain issues may be brought up that are emotive in nature. 

Being an effective mediator means helping those people on either side of such a divide are heard, listen to one another and encouraged to find common ground and a resolution. Mediating skills are useful for leaders and managers in many situations and the problem solving process is no different.

Conflict Responses   #hyperisland   #team   #issue resolution   A workshop for a team to reflect on past conflicts, and use them to generate guidelines for effective conflict handling. The workshop uses the Thomas-Killman model of conflict responses to frame a reflective discussion. Use it to open up a discussion around conflict with a team.


Solving organizational problems is much more effective when following a process or problem solving model. Planning skills are vital in order to structure, deliver and follow-through on a problem solving workshop and ensure your solutions are intelligently deployed.

Planning skills include the ability to organize tasks and a team, plan and design the process and take into account any potential challenges. Taking the time to plan carefully can save time and frustration later in the process and is valuable for ensuring a team is positioned for success.

3 Action Steps   #hyperisland   #action   #remote-friendly   This is a small-scale strategic planning session that helps groups and individuals to take action toward a desired change. It is often used at the end of a workshop or programme. The group discusses and agrees on a vision, then creates some action steps that will lead them towards that vision. The scope of the challenge is also defined, through discussion of the helpful and harmful factors influencing the group.


As organisations grow, the scale and variation of problems they face multiplies. Your team or is likely to face numerous challenges in different areas and so having the skills to analyze and prioritize becomes very important, particularly for those in leadership roles.

A thorough problem solving process is likely to deliver multiple solutions and you may have several different problems you wish to solve simultaneously. Prioritization is the ability to measure the importance, value, and effectiveness of those possible solutions and choose which to enact and in what order. The process of prioritization is integral in ensuring the biggest challenges are addressed with the most impactful solutions.

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

Project management

Some problem solving skills are utilized in a workshop or ideation phases, while others come in useful when it comes to decision making. Overseeing an entire problem solving process and ensuring its success requires strong project management skills. 

While project management incorporates many of the other skills listed here, it is important to note the distinction of considering all of the factors of a project and managing them successfully. Being able to negotiate with stakeholders, manage tasks, time and people, consider costs and ROI, and tie everything together is massively helpful when going through the problem solving process. 

Record keeping

Working out meaningful solutions to organizational challenges is only one part of the process.  Thoughtfully documenting and keeping records of each problem solving step for future consultation is important in ensuring efficiency and meaningful change. 

For example, some problems may be lower priority than others but can be revisited in the future. If the team has ideated on solutions and found some are not up to the task, record those so you can rule them out and avoiding repeating work. Keeping records of the process also helps you improve and refine your problem solving model next time around!

Personal Kanban   #gamestorming   #action   #agile   #project planning   Personal Kanban is a tool for organizing your work to be more efficient and productive. It is based on agile methods and principles.

Research skills

Conducting research to support both the identification of problems and the development of appropriate solutions is important for an effective process. Knowing where to go to collect research, how to conduct research efficiently, and identifying pieces of research are relevant are all things a good researcher can do well. 

In larger groups, not everyone has to demonstrate this ability in order for a problem solving workshop to be effective. That said, having people with research skills involved in the process, particularly if they have existing area knowledge, can help ensure the solutions that are developed with data that supports their intention. Remember that being able to deliver the results of research efficiently and in a way the team can easily understand is also important. The best data in the world is only as effective as how it is delivered and interpreted.

Customer experience map   #ideation   #concepts   #research   #design   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   Customer experience mapping is a method of documenting and visualizing the experience a customer has as they use the product or service. It also maps out their responses to their experiences. To be used when there is a solution (even in a conceptual stage) that can be analyzed.

Risk management

Managing risk is an often overlooked part of the problem solving process. Solutions are often developed with the intention of reducing exposure to risk or solving issues that create risk but sometimes, great solutions are more experimental in nature and as such, deploying them needs to be carefully considered. 

Managing risk means acknowledging that there may be risks associated with more out of the box solutions or trying new things, but that this must be measured against the possible benefits and other organizational factors. 

Be informed, get the right data and stakeholders in the room and you can appropriately factor risk into your decision making process. 

Decisions, Decisions…   #communication   #decision making   #thiagi   #action   #issue analysis   When it comes to decision-making, why are some of us more prone to take risks while others are risk-averse? One explanation might be the way the decision and options were presented.  This exercise, based on Kahneman and Tversky’s classic study , illustrates how the framing effect influences our judgement and our ability to make decisions . The participants are divided into two groups. Both groups are presented with the same problem and two alternative programs for solving them. The two programs both have the same consequences but are presented differently. The debriefing discussion examines how the framing of the program impacted the participant’s decision.


No single person is as good at problem solving as a team. Building an effective team and helping them come together around a common purpose is one of the most important problem solving skills, doubly so for leaders. By bringing a team together and helping them work efficiently, you pave the way for team ownership of a problem and the development of effective solutions. 

In a problem solving workshop, it can be tempting to jump right into the deep end, though taking the time to break the ice, energize the team and align them with a game or exercise will pay off over the course of the day.

Remember that you will likely go through the problem solving process multiple times over an organization’s lifespan and building a strong team culture will make future problem solving more effective. It’s also great to work with people you know, trust and have fun with. Working on team building in and out of the problem solving process is a hallmark of successful teams that can work together to solve business problems.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity   #ice breaker   #teambuilding   #team   #remote-friendly   9 Dimensions is a powerful activity designed to build relationships and trust among team members. There are 2 variations of this icebreaker. The first version is for teams who want to get to know each other better. The second version is for teams who want to explore how they are working together as a team.

Time management 

The problem solving process is designed to lead a team from identifying a problem through to delivering a solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Without effective time management skills or timeboxing of tasks, it can be easy for a team to get bogged down or be inefficient.

By using a problem solving model and carefully designing your workshop, you can allocate time efficiently and trust that the process will deliver the results you need in a good timeframe.

Time management also comes into play when it comes to rolling out solutions, particularly those that are experimental in nature. Having a clear timeframe for implementing and evaluating solutions is vital for ensuring their success and being able to pivot if necessary.

Improving your skills at problem solving is often a career-long pursuit though there are methods you can use to make the learning process more efficient and to supercharge your problem solving skillset.

Remember that the skills you need to be a great problem solver have a large overlap with those skills you need to be effective in any role. Investing time and effort to develop your active listening or critical thinking skills is valuable in any context. Here are 7 ways to improve your problem solving skills.

Share best practices

Remember that your team is an excellent source of skills, wisdom, and techniques and that you should all take advantage of one another where possible. Best practices that one team has for solving problems, conducting research or making decisions should be shared across the organization. If you have in-house staff that have done active listening training or are data analysis pros, have them lead a training session. 

Your team is one of your best resources. Create space and internal processes for the sharing of skills so that you can all grow together. 

Ask for help and attend training

Once you’ve figured out you have a skills gap, the next step is to take action to fill that skills gap. That might be by asking your superior for training or coaching, or liaising with team members with that skill set. You might even attend specialized training for certain skills – active listening or critical thinking, for example, are business-critical skills that are regularly offered as part of a training scheme.

Whatever method you choose, remember that taking action of some description is necessary for growth. Whether that means practicing, getting help, attending training or doing some background reading, taking active steps to improve your skills is the way to go.

Learn a process 

Problem solving can be complicated, particularly when attempting to solve large problems for the first time. Using a problem solving process helps give structure to your problem solving efforts and focus on creating outcomes, rather than worrying about the format. 

Tools such as the seven-step problem solving process above are effective because not only do they feature steps that will help a team solve problems, they also develop skills along the way. Each step asks for people to engage with the process using different skills and in doing so, helps the team learn and grow together. Group processes of varying complexity and purpose can also be found in the SessionLab library of facilitation techniques . Using a tried and tested process and really help ease the learning curve for both those leading such a process, as well as those undergoing the purpose.

Effective teams make decisions about where they should and shouldn’t expend additional effort. By using a problem solving process, you can focus on the things that matter, rather than stumbling towards a solution haphazardly. 

Create a feedback loop

Some skills gaps are more obvious than others. It’s possible that your perception of your active listening skills differs from those of your colleagues. 

It’s valuable to create a system where team members can provide feedback in an ordered and friendly manner so they can all learn from one another. Only by identifying areas of improvement can you then work to improve them. 

Remember that feedback systems require oversight and consideration so that they don’t turn into a place to complain about colleagues. Design the system intelligently so that you encourage the creation of learning opportunities, rather than encouraging people to list their pet peeves.

While practice might not make perfect, it does make the problem solving process easier. If you are having trouble with critical thinking, don’t shy away from doing it. Get involved where you can and stretch those muscles as regularly as possible. 

Problem solving skills come more naturally to some than to others and that’s okay. Take opportunities to get involved and see where you can practice your skills in situations outside of a workshop context. Try collaborating in other circumstances at work or conduct data analysis on your own projects. You can often develop those skills you need for problem solving simply by doing them. Get involved!

Use expert exercises and methods

Learn from the best. Our library of 700+ facilitation techniques is full of activities and methods that help develop the skills you need to be an effective problem solver. Check out our templates to see how to approach problem solving and other organizational challenges in a structured and intelligent manner.

There is no single approach to improving problem solving skills, but by using the techniques employed by others you can learn from their example and develop processes that have seen proven results. 

Try new ways of thinking and change your mindset

Using tried and tested exercises that you know well can help deliver results, but you do run the risk of missing out on the learning opportunities offered by new approaches. As with the problem solving process, changing your mindset can remove blockages and be used to develop your problem solving skills.

Most teams have members with mixed skill sets and specialties. Mix people from different teams and share skills and different points of view. Teach your customer support team how to use design thinking methods or help your developers with conflict resolution techniques. Try switching perspectives with facilitation techniques like Flip It! or by using new problem solving methodologies or models. Give design thinking, liberating structures or lego serious play a try if you want to try a new approach. You will find that framing problems in new ways and using existing skills in new contexts can be hugely useful for personal development and improving your skillset. It’s also a lot of fun to try new things. Give it a go!

Encountering business challenges and needing to find appropriate solutions is not unique to your organization. Lots of very smart people have developed methods, theories and approaches to help develop problem solving skills and create effective solutions. Learn from them!

Books like The Art of Thinking Clearly , Think Smarter, or Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow are great places to start, though it’s also worth looking at blogs related to organizations facing similar problems to yours, or browsing for success stories. Seeing how Dropbox massively increased growth and working backward can help you see the skills or approach you might be lacking to solve that same problem. Learning from others by reading their stories or approaches can be time-consuming but ultimately rewarding.

A tired, distracted mind is not in the best position to learn new skills. It can be tempted to burn the candle at both ends and develop problem solving skills outside of work. Absolutely use your time effectively and take opportunities for self-improvement, though remember that rest is hugely important and that without letting your brain rest, you cannot be at your most effective. 

Creating distance between yourself and the problem you might be facing can also be useful. By letting an idea sit, you can find that a better one presents itself or you can develop it further. Take regular breaks when working and create a space for downtime. Remember that working smarter is preferable to working harder and that self-care is important for any effective learning or improvement process.

Want to design better group processes?

how to improve analytical problem solving skills

Over to you

Now we’ve explored some of the key problem solving skills and the problem solving steps necessary for an effective process, you’re ready to begin developing more effective solutions and leading problem solving workshops.

Need more inspiration? Check out our post on problem solving activities you can use when guiding a group towards a great solution in your next workshop or meeting. Have questions? Did you have a great problem solving technique you use with your team? Get in touch in the comments below. We’d love to chat!

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Going from a mere idea to a workshop that delivers results for your clients can feel like a daunting task. In this piece, we will shine a light on all the work behind the scenes and help you learn how to plan a workshop from start to finish. On a good day, facilitation can feel like effortless magic, but that is mostly the result of backstage work, foresight, and a lot of careful planning. Read on to learn a step-by-step approach to breaking the process of planning a workshop into small, manageable chunks.  The flow starts with the first meeting with a client to define the purposes of a workshop.…

how to improve analytical problem solving skills

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how to improve analytical problem solving skills

The 11 Most In-Demand Job Skills of 2024 (and How to Develop Them)

A ccording to a new report from LinkedIn , some of the most in-demand job skills of 2024 are so-called "people skills," which have become increasingly important as the roles of AI, automation, and other technological advancements continue to expand. While specific skillsets will vary from job to job, those identified in the report are broadly applicable across industries and professions.

But knowing that communication skills are important, and knowing how to develop those skills, are two different things. That's why, in addition to the 11 most in-demand skills, I've included expert advice for improving them.


To get better at communicating your own thoughts and ideas, start by working on your active listening skills, says Brittany Dolin, co-founder of the Pocketbook Agency , a Los Angeles recruitment firm. "It promotes understanding, helps build rapport, and allows you to respond more effectively in workplace conversations."

Even casual conversations with colleagues or others you interact with over the course of a day are your chance to work on communication skills like getting your point across in a clear, concise way, and ensuring that when it ends, everyone involved understands the outcome—including any next steps. For more practice, Stephanie Licata,  the learning strategist for  Cloverleaf , suggests asking your manager or other team members for opportunities to lead meetings and participate in presentations in order to "grow your group-communication confidence." 

Customer service

Even if your job doesn't involve interacting with "customers" in the traditional sense of the word, it may require you to provide some type of service for other people—whether it's patients, students, guests, or people in other departments. To improve your customer service skills, Licata recommends regularly collecting and reflecting on both official and informal feedback you receive from customers (or your job's equivalent). From there, come up with tangible actions you can take to respond to their needs.

Employers may want people with leadership skills, but what if you have no interest in running a department or company? That's not a problem, according to Licata, who explains that you can also do things like asking for leadership roles or accountabilities in key projects with high visibility, or seeking out opportunities to mentor new employees—even if your company doesn't have a formal mentoring program.

Project management

If you don't have experience managing projects involving other people, start with your own. The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there that can help you, says Amara Pope, PhD , a marketing and branding consultant. This includes management software like Asana and Hubspot, which she says can help you effectively organize tasks, timelines, and internal and external communications.

But what about being a manager of people, and not just their projects? Similar to leadership, it's also possible to develop your managerial skills without having to become a big boss. Once again, start small, offering to manage small, low-stakes projects "that most people would never volunteer to take charge of," says Damian Birkel, the director and founder of Professionals In Transition. "This will give you invaluable experience, an opportunity to work one-on-one with your boss, and a chance to learn about their management style, and how they got their management experience."

Seek out opportunities to review or analyze data related to some aspect of your current job—even if you're not required to do so. More specifically, Licata recommends applying data analysis to one of your current challenges as a way to gain clarity about it. Then, take it a step further, and identify areas where data isn't currently being collected, but should be.

Whether you loved group work in school, or you were the one who was stuck doing everything—then having to make it look like a team effort—it probably didn't take long for you to realize that you'll be collaborating with others for the rest of your career.

You may not be thrilled about that, but don't fight it; instead, make an effort to be someone that other people actually want on their team, says Birkel. "This means being on time, keeping your promises, holding other teammates accountable, and completing whatever tasks you volunteer for," he says.

Meanwhile, interacting with your team is the perfect time to work on the communication skills you've been practicing—including explaining something in a way that holds people's attention and gets your message across. As you're actively listening to your colleagues, be open to their ideas, says Nicole Dayan, co-founder of the Pocketbook Agency . Though some people do this all the time, there are plenty of others who would benefit from hearing their colleagues out, and taking the time to consider their input. Plus, as Dayan points out, this demonstrates a willingness to learn and grow from experiences and feedback.

Even if you don't have a literal sales job, it's a skill that still comes in handy when you have to sell your ideas to colleagues at a meeting, for instance. But instead of focusing on pitching the same set idea to everyone, Licata recommends listening to—or asking—what the people on the receiving end actually need, and tailoring your pitch to meet their needs. In other words, whether you're selling a concept, project, or product, know and understand your audience.


To get better at problem-solving, Pope suggests continuously seeking new challenges. One way to do this is to set new goals for yourself on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis, then figure out what you need to do in order to achieve them. Doing this will not only foster an innovative mentality, but chances are, you’ll also gain new experiences, she says.

Pope recommends engaging in workshops or courses to help improve your research skills, and gain exposure to different approaches to and ways of thinking about your field. It doesn't need to be a major time commitment: You can learn a lot from signing up for one seminar or workshop each month.

Not sure where to start? The LinkedIn Learning course " How to Research and Write Using Generative AI Tools with Dave Birss " along with the rest of the company's most popular AI courses are available for free through July 1, 2024. There are plenty of other free online courses and workshops that will help you sharpen your research skills, including ones from the University of Michigan , the University of California, Irvine , and the University of New South Wales .


Technically, LinkedIn's report includes the top 10 most in-demand job skills—which are the ones listed above. But the authors also included what they call the "skill of the moment," which was the skill that grew in popularity among employers the most in a set period of time: Adaptability.

"Companies want workers who will pivot, not panic, and change with them as the business or economy shifts," says Dan Brodnitz , the global head of content strategy for LinkedIn Learning. "They are looking to hire people who want to learn new things, embrace any changes that come their way, and who are looking ahead to the future—even if that means doing things differently."

The 11 Most In-Demand Job Skills of 2024 (and How to Develop Them)

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Virgo, Horoscope Today, May 14, 2024: Ideal day for problem-solving

Virgo, Horoscope Today, May 14, 2024: Ideal day for problem-solving

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    Play Brain Games. Playing brain games is a great way to improve your analytical thinking skills. This could be in the form of logic puzzles, crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoku, etc. There are many apps available where you can do a little mind-work every day.

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    It is good to promote your analytical thinking skills in your resume and during a job interview. Use words and phrases like problem solving, creativity and analytical when describing your abilities. If you have previous work experiences, you can write something like in my previous job I was tasked with selecting the right materials.

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