Essential Practice Skills for High-Impact Analytics Projects

Learn practical frameworks and systematic processes for addressing complex, real-world problems and how to facilitate effective action. This intensive hands-on course is developed by the largest organization of analytics professionals, INFORMS.

INFORMS CE takeaways

By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Learn to link their subject-matter expertise to the challenges of messy, unstructured problems, organizational noise, and non-technical decision makers.
  • Understand best-practice techniques, including: problem statement summaries, issue trees, interview guides, work plans, sensitivity analysis, stress-testing recommendations, the "Pyramid Principle" of story logic, story-boarding, slide-craft, delivering presentations, and fielding Q&A.

Register here for the February 21-22 class in Atlanta, GA.  

Course Outline

Day One: From Issues to Analysis

Introduction. The Power of Process: Structured Problem-Solving

I. Defining the Problem

  • Identifying the need for change
  • Framing the key question
  • Identifying the players’ criteria for quality...and action
  • Determining project scope

II. Breaking Down the Problem

  • Smart decomposition of complex problems
  • Visual thinking & generic frameworks
  • Making it “MECE”: mutually exclusive, collectively exhausting
  • Creating issue trees

III. Planning the Work

  • Tying issue trees to work product
  • Creating the task inventory
  • Selecting the appropriate analyses
  • Identifying information needs and resource needs
  • Creating manageable work plans
  • Setting work priorities
  • The “ghost deck” shortcut

Day Two: From Insights to Action

IV. Working the Plan

  • Asking "so what?": Pivoting from questions to insights to answers
  • Dealing with the dynamics of work groups and teams
  • Navigating client interactions
  • Facilitating creative solutions

V. Building the Case

  • Avoiding "analysis paralysis": Deciding when "enough is enough"
  • "Stress-testing" recommendations
  • Revealing and refining the argument structure: "The Pyramid Principle"
  • Anticipating questions and challenges from key players

VI. Telling the Story

  • Analyzing the audience, and the levers of persuasion
  • Selecting the appropriate vehicles and media for communication
  • Using story boards to develop a strong story line
  • Crafting slides that support the story
  • Navigating and wayfinding in complex stories
  • Presenting results based on complex analytical work

VII. Starting the Change

  • Implementing structured problem solving in your own work
  • Driving organizational change
  • Setting up the next project

Who Should Attend?

Participants in the Essential Practice Skills workshop learn and hone the skills they need to turn analytical insights into organizational actions that drive innovation, growth, and efficiency. Past participants have come from a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, finance, transportation and many more, and have ranged from CFOs and Data Scientists to Research Analysts, Business Intelligence professionals, Academic Program Directors and others.

Upcoming Course Dates and Locations

Georgia Institute of Technology
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering
Groseclose Advisory Boardroom, Room 402
755 Ferst Drive
Atlanta, GA 30332-0205

February 21-22, 2018
8:30am - 4:30pm 

Register for the February 21-22 class in Atlanta, GA

University of Denver
Daniels College of Business

June 20-21, 2018
8:30am - 4:30pm

Register for the June 20-21 class in Denver, CO

Washington, D.C.
AMA Washington, DC Area Executive Conference Center
2345 Crystal Drive, 2nd floor
Arlington, Virginia 22202

September 19-20, 2018
8:30am - 4:30pm

Register for the September 19-20 class in Washington, D.C.


Members - $1,299
Non-members - $1,499
*Discounts available for 3 or more from the same organization.

Register here

Workshop Featuring Renowned Educator Patrick Noonan, PhD

Patrick Noonan

Patrick Noonan, Emory University

Patrick Noonan, a former management consultant, business owner, and educator, leads the Essential Practice Skills workshop. Patrick combines a hands-on teaching and learning approach honed form faculty positions at Harvard, Duke, and most recently Emory, with real-world experience from his business career starting at global management consulting giant McKinsey & Co.

Participants say ...

"Overall I feel this course provides something for individuals who are just starting out in analytics (like myself), the seasoned analytics professional and everyone in between! I would definitely recommend it. The structure of the course is designed to show you how to utilize these tools in your current organization and will provide many opportunities for discussion. It is truly analytics in practice!"

- William Tyson, Norfolk Southern Corporation

"Irrespective of your level of experience, this is an excellent course that will improve your ability to target the right problems., effectively manage an analytics team, and successfully communicate to a client. Well done and value-added!"

- Dr. Chuck Noon, University of Tennessee, Knoxville