Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving - Business Analyst

Creative Thinking

1. Purpose

Business analysts must be effective in generating new ideas for approaches to problem solving and in generating alternative solutions.


Creative thinking involves generating new ideas and concepts, as well as finding new associations between or new applications of existing ideas and concepts. These concepts should be innovative and appropriate to the situation. In addition to identifying and proposing alternatives, the business analyst can be effective in promoting creative thinking in others by asking questions and challenging assumptions.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Measures of successful creative thinking include:

  • The successful generation and productive consideration of new ideas.
  • Application of new ideas to resolve existing problems.
  • Willingness of stakeholders to accept new approaches.

Decision Making

1. Purpose

Business analysts must be effective in understanding the criteria involved in making a decision, in making decisions, and in assisting others to make better decisions.

2. Definition

A decision is required whenever it becomes necessary to select an alternative or approach from two or more options. Decision analysis includes gathering information relevant to a decision, breaking down the information relevant to a decision, making comparisons and tradeoffs between similar and dissimilar options, and identifying the option that is most desirable. Business analysts must be aware of the traps that can impede successful decision - making, including the tendency to accept the initial framing of a problem, the sunk cost fallacy, and the tendency to place greater weight on evidence that confirms existing impressions.

3. Effectiveness Measure

Measures of successful decision making include:

  • Confidence of the participants in the decision-analysis process that a decision is correct.
  • New information or alternatives that cause a decision to be revisited are genuinely new and not simply overlooked.
  • Decisions are effective in addressing the underlying problem.
  • The impact of uncertainty and new information when making decisions can be effectively assessed.


1. Purpose

Business analysts must be effective at learning about business domains and how they function, and then translate that learning into an understanding of how to benefit an organization.

2. Definition

Learning is the process of gaining knowledge or skills. Learning about a domain passes through a set of stages, from initial acquisition and learning of raw facts, through comprehension of their meaning, to applying the knowledge in day - to - day work, and finally analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. A business analyst must be able to describe their level of understanding of the business domain and be capable of applying that level of understanding to determine which analysis activities need to be performed in a given situation. Once learning about a domain has reached the point where analysis is complete, the business analyst must be able to synthesize the information to identify opportunities to create new solutions and evaluate those solutions to ensure that they are effective.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Measures of successful learning include:

  • Agreement by stakeholders that analysis models effectively and completely describe the domain.
  • Identification of related problems or issues from multiple areas in the domain.
  • Rapid absorption of new information or new domains.

Analytical thinking and Problem Solving Competency

Problem Solving

1. Purpose

Business analysts must be effective at defining and solving problems in order to ensure that the real, underlying problem is understood and that solutions actually address that problem .

2. Definition

Defining a problem involves ensuring that the nature of the problem is clearly understood by all parties and that underlying issues are visible. Conflicts between the goals and objectives of the stakeholders need to be articulated and addressed. Underlying assumptions must be identified and tested. The objectives that will be met once the problem is solved need to be clearly specified and alternative solutions should be developed. Alternatives are measured against the objectives to determine which possible solution is best and identify the tradeoffs that may exist between solutions. The business analyst should be aware of a number of problem solving techniques that may be applied.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Measures of successful problem-solving include:

  • Confidence of the participants in the problem-solving process that a selected solution is correct.
  • New solution options can be evaluated effectively using the problem solving framework.
  • Selected solutions meet the defined objectives and solve the underlying problem.
  • The problem - solving process avoids making decisions based on preconceived notions, organizational politics, or other traps that may cause a sub-optimal solution to be selected.

Systems Thinking

1. Purpose

Business analysts must be effective at understanding how the people, processes and technology within an organization interact in relationships and patterns to create a system as a whole.

2. Definition

Systems theory and systems thinking suggest that the system as a whole will have properties, behaviors and characteristics that emerge from the interaction of the components of the system, and which are not predictable from an understanding of the components alone. In the context of systems theory, the term “system” is much broader than an IT system - it also includes the people involved, the interactions between them, the external forces affecting their behavior, and all other relevant elements and factors.

3. Effectiveness Measures

Measures of effective use of systems thinking include:

  • Understanding of how a change to a component affects the system as a whole.
  • Identification of reinforcing and compensating feedback loops.
  • Understanding of how systems adapt to external pressures and changes.

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