Monday 14 August 2006

The occupation of an Analyst

[ This was originally posted on an old blog: The occupation of an Analyst ]

This is the first instalment of my "book", as explained here. It’s a work in progress and your feedback would be a great help.

What is an Analyst? Recently it seems that every second job includes the term analyst.

When I was (briefly) at college, a friend had a mentor who would go on for hours (literally) about how devalued the term doctor had become. His premise was that there were too many people who were "officially" doctors of this or that but had just "cruised" through grad school and didn't deserve the accolade.

Now, 12 years later, I feel very much the same way about the title of Analyst. Everywhere I look in organisation charts I see people who are ostensibly employed as analysts. Sadly very few of these seem to actually do any analysis. Such as a Network Support Analyst who's job is correctly route the LAN cabling or a Helpdesk Analyst who's job is to deal with support calls to reset user passwords. Important jobs but not really analysts.

The occupation of an Analyst is to analyse. To paraphrase Webster's, analysis is the “resolution of anything into its constituent elements” or the creation of a “brief methodical illustration of the principles” of a subject.

For me, an Analyst seeks to:
  • understand the present
    • by examining the past
      • in order to influence the future.
For instance a Psychoanalyst seeks to understand the patient’s mental state by examining how the patient’s past life experiences have influenced them so that the patient can improve that state in the future. A Business Analyst seeks to understand a business situation by examining how it has operated in the past so that new processes can be implemented to improve future operations.

If you can twist what you do into this framework then I salute you as a fellow analyst.

Now get back to work.

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