Friday, March 14, 2014

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is a foundational skill that wraps behind much other thinking.

Critical Thinking (CT), as defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, "is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action".

Critical Thinking is an important skill to deal with the multi-logical situation or today's digital dynamic: Business are complex with many moving parts, or require multiple disciplines, or have multiple valid viewpoints. These are the types of situations that require Critical Thinking. The investment in Critical Thinking or the extent of effort in CT - has a lot to do with things like a) sense of urgency, b) impact of the decision, c) scope, d) who is being impacted, how important they are & how important the decision really is to them, and e) how likely the situation is likely to change or better information will become known

Critical Thinking is not automatic thinking, it takes extra effort to thinking critically: It requires one to interrupt the automatic thinking process. As humans, we are "wired" to operate on auto-pilot in order to navigate the physical world and make instant "survival" decisions. This type of thinking is deeply embedded and does not require the extra effort that "conscious" thinking and decisions require. The key question is - when do you have to move from auto-pilot to conscious, self-aware, self-correcting type of thinking, or in other words, think critically, as it does take energy and awareness to think well, to think deep and to think critically. So that self-conscious expenditure is extra work. 

Critical Thinking is a foundational skill that wraps behind many other thinking processes: “Critique thought processing" is a generous oversimplification for the concept of critical thinking. While you won't find one universally accepted the single-sentence definition of the concept, you will find that each definition includes common themes. Critical Thinking is a broad term that includes themes such as:
-Reflective Thinking
-Structured Thinking
-Methodological Thinking
-Disciplined Thinking 
-Strategic Thinking
-Collaborative Thinking
-Creative thinking
-Synthesizing, analyzing and evaluating evidence/information
-Recognizing assumptions
-Identifying patterns
-Identifying and eliminating bias
-Drawing a conclusion that follows the evidence collected/evaluated.  

Critical Thinking brings insight into the situation. Critical Thinking is contextual, both reality oriented and evidence -oriented. It involves induction and deduction continuum.  We grow a larger perspective.  We see or understand differently about the situation than previous. It would be wonderful if everyone applied CT most of the time to most of their work, but in what workplace / business areas is critical thinking most useful or most needed? The answer depends on the nature of the work. Does the task/activity require problem solving or decision making that has important or high-value outcomes? If so, then CT should be applied. Does the task/activity require influencing of other people's thinking, behavior, or decisions? Again, if so, then apply CT. What is the risk associated with the situation? The greater the risks are the greater need to apply critical thinking. Then again, it really takes critical thinking to identify situations that involve risk.

Management Tip for encouraging Critical Thinking: A pro-team style of management at the diversified workplace would be more beneficial to produce CT as it would reinforce staff members in the workplace to maintain CT while at work (Rotate roles to keep things changing, short shifts on tasks, more frequent staff meetings to discuss strategy, creating a team system of management to ensure everyone has applied for micro-managerial roles etc…)

At the individual level, as the say’s going: The quality of your life is given in the quality of the thinking you have done. In other words, what you are experiencing is the total sum of decisions you have made. If you're happy with your place in life and the world, then keep going on. If not, then it may be time to think differently for better decisions and outcomes. At an organizational level, the purpose of business is given in the quality of collective thought upon business vision and strategy, and how effective you can make decisions to move the business forward at today's digital dynamic. Thinking critically; Think creatively and think profoundly.    


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