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What is Flow?

Posted by Adrian M.

Article Rating // 1661 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Analytical and Problem Solving Skills, General


The concept of flow, as proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a concept in positive psychology that describes a mental state of complete absorption, focus, and involvement in an activity. This state is characterized by a deep and effortless concentration on the present moment, a sense of control, and a loss of self-consciousness. When individuals experience flow, they often feel a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction from the activity itself.

Csikszentmihalyi, suggested that the experience of flow occurs when there is a balance between the individual's skill level and the challenge level of the activity at hand. The relationship between skill and challenge is often represented by a flow channel, as depicted in the following diagram:

The relationship between skill and challenge

Image source: Amber Case on

Here's how the interaction between skill and challenge affects the experience of flow:

  • Low Skill, Low Challenge leads to Boredom -> When a task is too easy for an individual (low challenge) and their skill level is high, they may become bored. The lack of challenge can lead to disengagement and a sense of monotony.
  • High Skill, Low Challenge leads to Apathy -> If a task is too easy for someone with a high skill level, they may feel apathetic or uninterested. The lack of challenge fails to engage their skills fully, resulting in a sense of indifference.
  • Low Skill, High Challenge leads to Anxiety -> On the other hand, if a task is too difficult for an individual whose skill level is low, they may experience anxiety. The high challenge can be overwhelming, leading to frustration and stress.
  • High Skill, High Challenge leads to Flow -> The optimal state for experiencing flow occurs when the challenge level of the task matches the individual's skill level. In this balanced state, people are fully engaged, focused, and experience a sense of control and mastery. This is the ideal condition for flow to occur.

The key to achieving flow is to find work and activities that match or slightly exceed your individual current skill level, providing an optimal level of challenge.  

Csikszentmihalyi identified flow as a key element in achieving happiness and optimal human functioning. Flow involves a high level of concentration and attention on the task at hand. The individual becomes fully immersed in the activity, and distractions fade away.  Those in a state of flow feel a sense of control over their actions and the outcome of the activity. They experience a sense of mastery and competence.

Is flow relevant in business analysis?  Yes. Business analysts, as any other professional, can achieve the state of flow, enabling them to be more productive, successful, and happier in their business analysis career.



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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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