CPG Basics: 5 Ways Cognitive Task Analysis Can Help Your Business

  • Psych Basics Cognitive Task Analysis CPG
As technology advances and organizational hierarchies flatten, jobs will continue to become increasingly complex. Understanding the knowledge and cognitive processes required behind these complex jobs will be one of the most valuable assets to any organization. But how does one break apart and fully understand the knowledge, reasoning, and strategies used by employees during challenging situations? The answer is to conduct a Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA).


What is Cognitive Task Analysis?

CTA is a method used to understand how people think, how their mind works, and how they perform complex work and deal with difficult and sometimes dangerous situations (Crandall, Klein,& Hoffman, 2006). It is more than just watching the physical activities of a person; it focuses on understanding the strategies, reasoning, and cognitive skills required to accomplish a task.

5 ways CTA can help your business

The results of a CTA can provide both low tech and high tech solutions for a variety of organizational interventions. Below are 6 examples of how it can help your business excel:

  1. Provides an organizational knowledge base of best practices and strategies for the most complex jobs, which means that strategic knowledge always stays within the organization even when key employees leave.
  2. Documents expert knowledge of soon-to-be retiring workforce so it can be repackaged and trained to incumbents.
  3. Serves as a guide for redesigning current training. This is done by identifying best training practices for complex cognitive processes, which includes applying proven instructional strategies and adult learning theory.
  4. Serves as a framework for redesigning complex jobs. Application of CTA results will help lessen the cognitive burden on employees and in turn increase productivity.
  5. Develops user specifications for new computer technologies. CTA provides a better understanding of the relationship between humans, computers, and technology and the cognitive requirements needed to operate effectively.

When used appropriately, CTA provides procedures that are systematic and scientifically proven to support understanding and description of complex domains.

Stay tuned for future “CPG Basics” posts that further explain the applications and steps to a CTA. In the meantime, feel free to visit our website www.cognitiveperformancegroup.com for more information on this procedure.


Crandall, B. W., Klein, G., & Hoffman, R. R. (2006). Working minds: A practitioner’s guide to cognitive task analysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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