Tag: analytical thinking

Analytical Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is the process of examining and breaking down complex information in a systematic and logical way to resolve a problem. It involves separating a whole into its basic parts in order to examine the parts and their relationships.

Analytical thinking encompasses the following activities:

  • Collecting relevant information
  • Assessing the value of information
  • Focusing on facts
  • Eliminating extraneous information
  • Dissecting information into simpler components
  • Exploring connections and relationships
  • Seeking patterns
  • Studying trends
  • Formulating theories
  • Testing theories
  • Conducting cause and effects analysis
  • Examining variables and alternative possibilities
  • Questioning results
  • Developing possible solutions
  • Evaluating solutions


Why use Analytical thinking?

Analytical thinking is used to dissect and study a problem in a logical manner to determine a practical answer or solution. It allows you to suspend judgment and apply deductive reasoning to find an answer based on logic and facts. If you do not use logical and objective thinking to analyze the problem, the solution you devise will not be based on logic. Instead, the solution may be based on simply intuition, instinct, and guessing.


About Analytical Thinking

Analytical Thinking is…

  • Convergent
  • Linear
  • Deductive
  • Sequential
  • Logical
  • Rational
  • Focused
  • Objective
  • Systematic




The Analytical Thinking Process

Analytical thinking is processing information in a logical, step-by-step manner to find a solution to a problem. The process begins by gathering information then breaking that information down from a larger system of information into smaller parts. You examine those parts to find connections and relationships between them. This is done by looking for pattern or trends, and by conducting a cause and effect analysis. After you have assessed the individual parts, you formulate theories about the problem. You then test the theories to ensure your assessments of cause and effect are accurate. Finally, you develop and evaluate potential solutions to the problem.



Steps in the Analytical Thinking Process to Solve Problems

Gather Information

The first step in the analytical thinking process is gathering relevant information. This includes assessing the value of the information and eliminating extraneous information.

Break Down Information into Parts

After all relevant information is gathered, the next step it to break it down into smaller parts.


Examine the Parts to Find Connections and Relationships

After the information has been dissected into parts, examine the parts to find connections and relationships. Analyze the parts and variables to understand how they are connected and interact. Look for patterns and trends. Conduct a cause and effect analysis in a systematic manner to understand the variables and their relationships. This gets you to begin to think about different implications.


Formulate Theories

At this step you are making inferences from available information and drawing logical conclusions. Therefore, after you have thought about potential implications, formulate theories on what may happen as the variables change.


Test Theories

After you formulate theories, test those theories to confirm your understanding of issues and drivers behind the problem.


Develop Possible Solutions

After you understand the information, start to develop potential solutions. Use logic to create your solution.


Evaluate Solutions

After you have develop a few solutions, evaluate them to determine if they will solve the problem.



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Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

Some people assume that analytical thinking and critical thinking are one in the same. However, that is incorrect. Although there are similarities, there are distinct differences between the two.



Analytical thinking is the mental process of breaking down complex information or comprehensive data into fundamental parts or basic principles.

Critical thinking is the mental process of carefully evaluating information and determining how to interpret it in order to make a sound judgment.



Differences between Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

A basic difference between analytical thinking and critical thinking is analytical thinking involves breaking down complex information into smaller parts while critical thinking involves taking outside knowledge into account while evaluating information. Basically, analytical thinking seeks to review and breakdown the information gathered while critical thinking looks to make a holistic judgment using various sources of information including a person’s own existing knowledge.

Analytical thinking is more linear and step-by-step breakdown of information. On the other hand, critical thinking is more holistic as it seeks to assess, question, verify, infer, interpret, and formulate.

Analytical thinking can be thought of as a step in the critical thinking process. When you have a complex problem to solve, you would want to use your analytical skills before your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking does involve breaking down information into parts and analyzing the parts in a logical, step-by-step manner. However, it also involves taking other information to make a judgment or formulate innovative solutions.

Additionally, with analytical thinking, you use facts within the information gathered to support your conclusion. Conversely, with critical thinking, you make a judgment based on your opinion formed by evaluating various sources of information including your own knowledge and experiences.





Analytical Thinking and Critical Thinking

About Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking uses a step-by-step method to analyze a problem or situation by breaking it down into smaller parts in order to come to a conclusion.

With analytical thinking, you make conclusions by breaking down complex information into smaller parts and analyzing the parts. You look for patterns and trends as well a cause and effect within the information in order to find connections between the parts. In the end, you make draw a conclusion based on the available facts.


Steps for Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking begins by gathering all relevant information. You then break up large, complex data into smaller, more manageable sizes. You then examine each sub-part to understand its components and relationship to the larger more complex data. You compare sets of data from different sources by looking at the information through different points of view with the objective to understand how it connects to other information. You search for patterns, trends, and cause and effect. Finally, you draw appropriate conclusions from the information in order to arrive at appropriate solutions.

Analytical thinking involves:

  1. Gathering relevant information
  2. Focusing on facts and evidence
  3. Examining chunks of data or information
  4. Identifying key issues
  5. Using logic and reasoning to process information
  6. Separating more complex information into simpler parts
  7. Sub-dividing information into manageable sizes
  8. Finding patterns and recognizing trends
  9. Identify cause and effect
  10. Understanding connections and relationships
  11. Eliminating extraneous information
  12. Organizing Information
  13. Drawing appropriate conclusions



About Critical Thinking

Critical thinking employs logic and reasoning to come to a conclusion about how best to perceive and interpret information in order to make sound judgments.

With critical thinking, you make conclusions regarding your unique perception of the information. You look into other pieces of data that could be relevant. Then you combine your new information with your existing knowledge of the world in order to make the most accurate assessment. Essentially, you reflect upon information in order to form a sound judgment that reconciles scientific evidence with common sense. Ultimately, you make reasoned judgments that are logical and well thought out by assessing the evidence that supports a specific theory or conclusion.


Steps for Critical Thinking

Critical thinking involves gathering all relevant information, then evaluating the information to determine how it should be best interpreted. You evaluate information by asking questions, assessing value, and making inferences. You then formulate ideas and theories based on the evaluation. You consider outside information rather than sticking strictly with the information presented. You then consider alternative possibilities before reaching a well-reasoned conclusion. Finally, you test your conclusions in an attempt to verify if evidence supports your conclusions and make your judgment.

Critical thinking involves:

  1. Gathering relevant information
  2. Evaluating information
  3. Asking questions
  4. Assessing bias or unsubstantiated assumptions
  5. Making inferences from the information and filling in gaps
  6. Using abstract ideas to interpret information
  7. Formulating ideas
  8. Weighing opinions
  9. Reaching well-reasoned conclusions
  10. Considering alternative possibilities
  11. Testing conclusions
  12. Verifying if evidence/argument support the conclusions


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Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking

Thinking outside the box

Lateral thinking is the mental process of generating ideas and solving problems by looking at a situation from a unique or different perspective.  This type of thinking involves breaking away from traditional modes of thinking and discarding established patterns and preconceived notions.

By using unconventional thinking techniques, lateral thinking enables you to find innovative solutions that you may otherwise not even consider.

Lateral Analtical Thinking

About Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward De Bono in 1967 in his book New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of New Ideas. De Bono explained typical problem solving techniques involve a linear, step-by-step approach. He believes a more creative solutions can be obtained by taking a step sideways to look at a situation or problem from an entirely different viewpoint.



A Different Mode of Thinking

Lateral thinking is different from other standard modes of thinking and problem solving.  It lies between vertical thinking (classic step-by-step method of problem solving) and brainstorming.

Vertical thinking involves working out the solution step-by-step from the given data. Brainstorming is about generating many ideas, but not being concerned with the detailed implementation of them.

Lateral Thinking


Lateral thinking is similar to brainstorming in that it involves deliberately going outside of the standard bounded thought process. However, unlike brainstorming, it still uses a systematic process that leads to logical conclusions.

It is like vertical thinking in that it is a uses a systematic process that leads to logical conclusions. However, unlike vertical thinking, it involves changing a standard thinking sequence and arriving at the solution from completely different angles.



Lateral vs. Vertical Thinking

Vertical thinking uses the processes of logic. Vertical thinking is analytical, sequenced, deliberate, and precise. It involves taking the data from a problem and analyzing it with defined methodologies to find logical solutions.

Lateral thinking involves using reasoning that is not straightforward and obvious. It involves generating ideas that are often not obtainable using just traditional step-by-step logic.

Analytical vs. Lateral Thinking


Four Principles

The theory behind lateral thinking is that many problems require a different perspective in order to successfully solve them. It focuses on what could be rather than what is possible or likely. To accomplish this, De Bono identified four principles to guide you through the thinking process:

  1. Recognize the dominant ideas that polarize the perception of a problem.
  2. Search for different ways of looking at things.
  3. Relax the strict control applied to the rational-logical (vertical) thinking.
  4. Use chance to encourage other ideas



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