How to Think and Write Like an Analyst

Live training for your analysts from Proficiency1.

Who Is This Course For?

We’ve designed this live three-day course to serve as a foundational training experience for organizations tasked with providing insightful and clearly written analysis to demanding customers. Whether your analysts cover national security issues for government clients or risk intelligence topics for corporate clients, this course offers a framework for ensuring those customers will read, understand, and believe your analysis. The course is ideal for relatively new analysts and offers more experienced analysts and managers a chance to take a fresh look at the fundamentals.

The course creator, Proficiency1 Director Chris Savos, has nearly 30 years of experience as an analyst and manager and trainer of analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency and in the private sector. He’s boiled down his experiences of what did and didn’t work for him and the hundreds of analysts he’s led or taught into straightforward advice for anyone looking to succeed as an analyst

What’s in the Course?

The course includes a live version of Proficiency1’s self-paced online offering, Strategies for Success as an Analyst. This content fills a critical hole in most analysts’ educations by examining what it means to be a professional analyst and offering a set of practical strategies to help any analyst succeed, regardless of their area of specialization. Every strategy links back to the core guidance that all analysis must be relevant, concise, clear, and credible. This section of the class covers such fundamental issues as:

  • The purpose of analysis and what it means to add value for a customer
  • The overarching requirement to tailor products to the needs of a specific customer set
  • What it means to be timely, objective, and an expert
  • The importance of working effectively with your peers, a concept baked into the course’s aspirational definition of success

The bulk of the course addresses arguably the most critical skill for any analyst: how to write an analytic product. Using examples and stories pulled from our instructors’ careers as analysts and managers/editors and mixing in exercises, students learn a structured approach for producing the insightful analysis their customers crave. This section of the class covers the “big stuff” analysts must get right, such as:

  • Adopting the proper attitude required to be an effective writer
  • Conceptualizing a product, to include creating a key intelligence/analytic question that links directly to your customer’s most pressing needs
  • Formulating an effective bottom line up front, title, and summary
  • Including opportunity analysis whenever possible
  • Making and supporting an argument
  • Addressing uncertainty using probabilistic language
  • Dealing with cognitive biases

The course also covers the “small stuff” that analysts often ignore at their peril. Chris built this section of the course based on the most common mistakes he’s seen in 20 years of reviewing analytic products. This material expands on the content in our self-paced online course Ten Tips for Improving Your Analytic Writing.  Writers should be able to avoid most of these mistakes once they know and practice a few simple rules, such as:

  • Pruning prose of unnecessary words
  • Using strong topic sentences
  • Punctuating properly
  • Avoiding vague or confusing word choices
  • Understanding unit modifiers
  • Self-editing to minimize your editor’s headaches

Pulling It All Together

We’ve woven elements of a final writing exercise throughout the course so that students practice course elements from start to finish in conceptualizing and creating a three-paragraph analytic product. The final exercise forces students to tailor their analysis to a specific customer, formulate and support an argument with evidence, coordinate elements of their analysis with classmates, and go through a peer editing process to bring home the importance of the “small stuff” elements of the class.

The instructor reviews each student’s final paper and holds a virtual one-on-one feedback session within a few days of the course’s completion. Students always find these sessions to be an incredibly valuable element of the course.

Customized for You

We can travel to you and deliver the course in person or, if you have a dispersed workforce, we can deliver it virtually. We can tailor our course examples, exercises, and final writing project to your specific customer set, substantive topics, writing styles, and product types. We can also build a certification program around How to Think and Write Like an Analyst that includes a mix of our growing catalogue of self-paced online offerings and other live courses, to include a briefing course.

If you’re interested in giving your analytic cadre the training they need to succeed while making your editors’ and managers’ lives a bit easier, reach out to us using the form below and we’ll set up a call to talk about meeting your needs.

Chris Savos

Our Course Developer

Dr. Chris Savos, the Director of Proficiency1, is dedicated to helping analysts everywhere build great careers. In addition to running and developing courses for Proficiency1, he designs and delivers unique in-person leadership, analytic, and professional skills training programs to a range of clients in the Intelligence Community and the private sector.

Chris knows what makes analytic products work, what causes them to fail, and how to teach analysts to improve their writing. He has reviewed thousands of products as a leader of analytic units at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and many more as an analytic writing instructor since leaving the Agency.

Chris has extensive experience as an executive manager, leader, and analyst with the CIA, where he worked for 22 years and earned the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Agency’s highest award for career service. Chris successfully led analytical units that covered sensitive issues in the Middle East and in South and East Asia.  He was also the CIA’s first Lead Talent Officer for the Directorate of Analysis and oversaw talent management and development programs for the Agency’s analytic workforce.

Chris earned a BA in government from Dartmouth College and a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You can learn more about him at www.chrissavos.com.

Email us to begin a conversation about how we can customize How to Think and Write Like an Analyst for your workforce.

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