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. 

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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


Our in-person class slated for June is canceled.  We are working on alternative delivery methods.  Stay tuned! 

If you have interest in taking the Essential Practice Skills course in the Spring of 2020, please contact Bill Griffin ([email protected]

Washington, D.C.: September 22-23, 2020 (tentative)
Register for our D.C. class now!


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

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


Transfers - you may transfer to an earlier or later course date with no fee provided the request is received in writing or via phone with an INFORMS representative at least 14 days prior to the start date of the course originally booked. There will be a $50 rebooking fee for transfers requested less than 14 days prior to the start of the course.

Cancellations - cancellations must be in writing or via phone with an INFORMS representative and received 21 days or more prior to the start of the course. A refund will be issued less a $100 processing fee. Cancellations less than 21 days prior to the start of the course will not be eligible for a refund.

Substitutions - if you cannot attend you may send a substitute without incurring a fee provided notice is given in writing (please include substitutes' name and email address) at least 72 hours prior to the start of the course

Complete the form below to request more information.