According to Rich Russakoff, writing for CBS Money Watch, there is an approach that we can all use to improve our analytic skills and performance: “There’s a simple exercise you can do that can rock your world. It’s called the Start — Keep — Stop exercise. Basically, it helps you clarify and define what’s important to you, on a personal, business or professional level (or all three). It’s all about pattern recognition, and it is powerful.” Here are the three phases:

START. “What actions or activities should you start doing that will increase your company’s effectiveness? Maybe you feel that your company’s culture could be strengthened, that your communication skills could be enhanced, that your client and/or vendor relationships could be solidified, or that your public image could use some improvement. Whatever you can dream of you can achieve here. Recognition of opportunity is the first step.”

KEEP. “It is also very important to identify and continue to do those things that strengthen your company and/or yourself. This is in essence positive pattern recognition. What are you doing that is having a powerful impact on your business? Perhaps it’s following up with your customers, weekly progress meetings with your team, or internal employee satisfaction surveys.”

STOP. “Great leaders are effective and quick when it comes to recognizing negative patterns. Ask yourself if there are any thorns in your side — any frustrations you keep having to deal with? Any counterproductive measures you could eliminate or change? What has a negative impact on your company’s morale? Any ways you can save time somewhere along the line?”

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