The (most?) valuable trait of analysts (that you can’t teach)

I have been thinking a lot about the type of analyst I enjoy working with, and what I think the critical elements of being a good web analyst are. In the course of doing so, I had an interesting realisation, that I look forward to putting into practice next time I’m searching for an analyst.

We’ve all read a thousand job descriptions, and we know the drill. Attention to detail, analytic skills (of course), able to synthesize large amounts of data to extract meaningful insights, deliver concise message to stakeholders. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But the trait I’ve not seen (often) on job descriptions (or heard in people’s conversations about what they’re looking for) is curiosity.

I want to both be and work with analysts who are curious. Who are forever asking “Why? Why? Why?” Who look at the site redesign of their favourite site, and think, “Oh man I wish I could get my hands on their data, I wonder what they’re seeing …” (And perhaps tries to hack at it via Compete.com or another competitive intelligence source.) I want the analyst who takes the initiative, and may even get a little side-tracked every now and then, because their curiosity takes them down an investigation path that no stakeholder or boss has asked them to go, or even thought to go. (The gems that can come of this …!)

If you’re lucky, you’ve worked with these kinds of analysts. If you’re very lucky, you are one yourself. (FYI, the fact that you’re reading a blog about web analytics pretty much suggests you are that curious person interested in the field. The 9-5 analysts don’t do this …) But me? I want to search for this, to hire and retain for it, and not just as a “nice to have”. This is top of my list. I can teach you how to use Omniture. I can’t teach you how to be interested in what we do, or to be curious to learn and grow.

6 thoughts on “The (most?) valuable trait of analysts (that you can’t teach)

  1. Curiosity is the second one : “Why, Why, Why” is great.
    Add to that the first one by @AvinashKaushik “so what, so what, so what” to ask what can we actually and practically do with this result to enhance the business (“actionable insight”), and you have both the results (for the analyst) and the story (for the executive).

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention The (most?) valuable trait of analysts (that you can’t teach) : M I C H E L E H I N O J O S A . c o m -- Topsy.com

  3. Another good trait is that a person just naturally notices when things are inefficient and thinks up ways to optimize without even trying.

    Some people seem content with the way things are. It would never occur to them to come up with improvements. Other people just can’t help themselves and are always noticing inefficiencies and thing up ways to make things faster or easier.

    Also, I wonder about those personality test that classify people as INTF, etc. I bet good web analytics people tend to have certain types.

    Also, how about setting objectives? Once you’ve decided what you care about, it’s easy to pour through data, month by month, and try to figure out why one month was better than another. You can learn a lot that way!

  4. Pingback: eMetrics DC, 2010: Full wrap up : MicheleHinojosa.com

  5. “In the course of doing so, I had an interesting realisation, that I look forward to putting into practice next time I’m searching for an analyst.”
    Where I have been able to read about this?

  6. There’s a respected personality test – Myers Briggs. One of the types is INTP. They love to analyze things and sometimes have ingenious ideas.

    Only 3% of the population is this type, but I bet web analytics people are often INTPs.

Leave a Reply to Greg Cancel reply