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

Course Outline

Day One: From Issues to Work

I. Defining the Problem

  • Interviewing the clients
  • Identifying the need for change
  • Framing the key question
  • Determining project scope
  • Surfacing the stakeholders' criteria for quality...and action

II. Structuring the Problem

  • Smart decomposition of complex problems
  • Creating issue trees
  • Applying the "80/20 rule"

III. Planning the Work

  • Tying issue trees to work product
  • Selecting the appropriate analyses
  • Identifying information needs
  • Creating manageable work plans
  • Setting work priorities

IV. Working the Plan

  • Managing complex work plans
  • Dealing with the dynamics of work groups and teams
  • Navigating client interactions
  • Bridging the gap between desired and available data
  • Making sense of messy, real-world data
  • Developing practical assumptions and approximations
  • Avoiding "analysis paralysis": Deciding when "enough is enough"

Day Two: From Insights to Action

V. Developing Insights and Recommendations

  • Validating and verifying results
  • Testing sensitivity to assumptions
  • Asking "so what?": Moving from data to insights to recommendations to plans
  • "Stress-testing" recommendations

VI. Making the Case

  • Analyzing the levers of persuasion
  • Selecting the appropriate vehicles and media for communication
  • Refining the argument structure: "The Pyramid Principle"
  • Using story boards to develop a strong story line
  • Crafting slides that support the story
  • Presenting results based on complex analytical work

VII. Create Value through Action

  • Driving organizational change
  • Quantifying impact of project
  • Celebrating success
  • Following-up and maintaining client relationships
  • 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

Seattle Pacific University
April 5-6 2017
For more details, contact Bill Griffin.


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