The Term “Analytic Mindset” Defined

The Term “Analytic Mindset” Defined

[From the Archive: Originally posted at Jan 6, 2011]


Given my frequent use of the terms “Analytic thinking”, Analytic Mindset” and so on – especially in the context of Rightshifting – you might find it useful to understand how I define the term “Analytic”.

Analytic Thinking, Mindset, Organisation

My choice of the designation (for the second of the four organisational mindsets in the Marshall Model) derives from the great Russell L Ackoff, who uses the term “Analytic” to label much the same thing.

This short video of Professor Ackoff talking about Systems Thinking explains more about the term “Analytic” in this context.

And for the record, here’s a short recap of my definition, as taken from my recent white paper “The Marshall Model of Organisational Evolution“:

Analytic organisations (e.g. those organisations with a prevailing, collective Analytic mindset) exemplify, to a large extent, the principles of Scientific Management a.k.a.Taylorism – as described by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the early twentieth century. Typical characteristics of Analytical organisation include:

  • A Theory-X posture toward staff.
  • Functional silos (e.g. Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, IT, HR, etc.).
  • Breaking things down into parts, and managing each part in isolation.
  • The belief that breaking the organisation into parts improves chances for business success.
  • Local optimisations
  • Personal accountability and the “single wringable neck”.
  • A management focus on e.g. costs and ‘efficiencies’, including Cost Accounting.

Middle-managers are seen as owners of the way the work works, channelling executive intent, allocating work and reporting on progress, within a command-and-control style regime. The Analytic mindset recognises that the way work is done has some (limited) bearing on costs and the quality of the results.

N.B. Some folks, including Tom Burns, have used the synonym “Mechanistic”.

– Bob

  1. Bob,

    Thanks for linking to my post; I appreciate it. You may wish to use this link: (to the same video) instead as I have moved the bulk of my posts to a newer form of the same Improving Knowledge Work blog. I’ve incorporated the blog into the site for THE BOTTOM LINE GROUP.

  2. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the update! I’ve amended the link in the post, accordingly.

    – Bob

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