Read this Book to Become a Better Analyst

Most book recommendations for data professionals will span topics such as statistics, analytics, storytelling, or more niche technical topics like python, SQL, etc.

Well there’s enough articles, perfectly curated social media posts, and YouTube videos that deliver the same repackaged advice over these technical areas.

So, today I don’t want to get technical. Many problems in data projects are not from the result of the technical talent or lack there of. Its in the lack of business understanding and incorrectly identifying the actual problem that needs to be solved.

So what is my book recommendation? Its the Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.

  • I don’t want to run my own business
  • I have no desire to go into management consulting, finance, etc.
  • I don’t want go to business school

So why should I read this book?

You want to best understand the business model of your company. Understand the processes that go into how they make money, generate their revenue, acquire their customers, etc.

And your work as an analyst will impact the business in many ways. But, there are 3 main buckets that I call the three R’s of a company where your project may relate to:

  1. Resources
  2. Risk
  3. Revenue

Companies want their resources to be optimized and efficiently used.

Companies want their risks to be minimized.

Companies want their revenue increased.

Your analytics projects can be directly be tied to any of these processes in some way.

And when you provide data solutions that do any of the “big 3”, then you provide value.

So where does the Personal MBA come into this equation? Well it teaches you how businesses work.

  • That businesses are large complex systems. How to utilize systems thinking to properly understand and analyze them.
  • How to properly develop hypotheses and use data to conduct experiments.
  • How to provide holistic solutions beyond what is being asked.
  • Identify opportunities of improvement that are high priority in a business process.

And so much more.

You probably don’t need to read this book front to back. But, there are genuine gems in here that will improve your critical and analytical thinking. It will also help you learn how to ask better questions when you receive a project. Because here is another secret: Stakeholders do not always know what their exact problem is.

And if you do not know how to think systematically and ask the right questions, you will spend all your time working on a “solution” that solves no one’s problem. And when you are not solving problems related to the big 3 mentioned earlier, then you’re not providing value.

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