Analysis vs. Integration

When I first started in consulting, I was thrilled whenever someone said, “Your strength is analysis.” It felt as impactful as being told, “You are a genius.”

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that while “analysis” is certainly important, it doesn’t compare to the significance of “integration.”

Why is “integration” important?

Ultimately, because it directly connects to the overall conclusion of the project. For instance, we “analyze” the materials or information obtained from client interviews. If it’s data related to sales, you might rearrange/analyze it by regional sales or by the profit margin per product. Broadly speaking, “analysis” involves breaking down large chunks (of information or data) into finer pieces.

So, why is “integration” challenging?

Because it involves interpreting the data (results of the analysis), deriving insights, and constructing a story. Moreover, this process requires not just the data obtained from the analysis, but also your past experiences and seemingly unrelated information from different fields.

I often compare the process of “integration” to composing music. The two are very similar.

For example, whenever I write a song and play it for someone, almost always, they say things like, “Ah, I’ve thought of that phrase before,” or “I once started writing a song that feels like this.” However, in over 99% of the cases, they haven’t completed the song. The reason is that while almost anyone can come up with a phrase (about 4 to 8 measures long), assembling it into a finished piece of music that includes a theme, message, story, interesting developments, and surprises, is not so easy.

This process requires not just the skill of arranging notes, but also the ability to “craft a narrative” as mentioned earlier. Additionally, it demands “strategic thinking skills,” such as considering the audience’s persona or incorporating the works of other popular musicians at the time.

In fact, the difficulty and importance of “integration” are common to many professions. What would be the equivalents of “analysis” and “integration” in your job?