How to spot the trend

We are pleased to announce today on Being Smarter another guest blogger, Ian Mash of Yeoman Consulting here in the UK. Ian helps us to continue the theme of ‘practical ways to help your business life” by sharing some of his experiences of working at the coalface as a senior manager in one of the UK’s largest companies – BT.

He starts today with a top tip on trend spotting.

Assimilating data quickly is a true management skill. Some managers can look at a page of figures (in for example a business case) and start asking deeply searching questions immediately. They can see anomalies and trends just from looking at the figures. However, not many of us can do this naturally and we have to rely on tools and techniques to guide us through.

Prior to working my education was science based but I didn’t have any business training per se until I did my MBA and that gave me a few tools to use.

But, the most useful everyday financial tool to me, is just a simple hand drawn graph to spot the trends.

You can do a very quick graph on excel if your drafting skills are poor.

It’s amazing how just say 4 data points drawn can show the anomalies in the trend that don’t immediately jump out of a financial analysis on the page and give you the leverage to start asking searching questions. Why does profit drop in year 3? Why is there a disproportionate capital spend in year 4? Etc.

It won’t give you the answers, but will start sensible digging with you and your team.

Ian Mash will be back with more pearls of wisdom in the next couple of weeks and can be contacted on +44 7860 621976 and via email at ian dot mash1 at

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