Stop Using Analytical Thinking

Submitted by Jeff Galas on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:57
blind spot elephant guys

Will you imagine something with me for a second?


You own a car and one day you walk out to find: You have a tire issue. You are unclear on what tire issue you have, but you can see just by looking at it that you do not want to drive on that tire. What is your next step?


Almost every time I have asked my clients this they tell me some variation of:

  • “...get a tire expert to look at it.”

  • “...just buy a new tire (as the time to investigate the issue isn’t worth the 150 dollars to buy a new tire”)

  • ”...get it towed to a shop.”


I always ask the follow up question: “What information do you know about the car to make that assessment?” The car is what matters - NOT THE TIRE.


Over the past few years, check that, over the past few decades, we have become more and more consumed with the idea of analysis. We look at data points and break them down further and further. Demographics, individual variables, and, in the end, individual pieces. More and more this is hurting us.


I should be careful and mindful how I describe this. It isn’t the act of analysis alone that hurts us. It is the unwillingness to ensure we are looking at the entire picture after we use this analysis.


Analysis is only effective when we are able to understand how that variable or individual aspect affects the whole. After all, fixing the tire is meaningless if the engine is not running.


There is no doubt that the tire and car example may be oversimplified. I understand that. However, this is how businesses consistently think.


“We do not have enough revenue…. Get a new VP of Sales in here!”

“Our IT system is always down and behind … Get a new leader of IT!”

They never look at the whole business, meaning the interactions between departments, the drivers of these issues, the situation, etc.. All too often we have localized thinking. All too often, we are using analysis with no synthesis.


More and more, the parts and the pieces are becoming more and more interconnected.

To diagnose the issue we need to understand the parts, but, just as importantly, we need to understand how the existing parts, even if they aren’t in question, impact the apparent “problem area”, and how those existing parts would also be affected after addressing the “problem area.”


All too often we are making decisions without seeing the whole.

We need to stop using analytical thinking without synthetical thinking.

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