Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Hybrid Digital Mind: Agile Critical Thinking

 Critical thinking has the potential to be a deeply creative process.

Digital is the hybrid era, the physical world is blurring with virtual world; the work life is blurring with personal life, and to dig into the mindset, the hybrid thinking can combine different thinking patterns in order to analyze and synthesize for more effective problem-solving. How about Agile thinking meeting with critical thinking, Agile can imply to creative, strategic, self-reflective or collective, etc. what’re the advantage to apply such hybrid thinking to overcome today’s challenges?

Critical Thinking to recognize that logic and reason alone is inadequate. Logic and reason alone maintain low ceilings and there is not much possibility for sustainable problem-solving. If logic and reason were the keys, all problems would have been solved long ago. One's own critical thinking ability or skills are only part of the equation since your judgment is affected by the corporate culture, imperfect information, competing agendas, etc. The practical reality is that taking the 'emotional' element is often what drives decisions. The “agile critical thinking” approach is to teach people how to apply critical thinking techniques to evaluate and incorporate data about individual differences, team dynamics and organizational realities into the equation - rather than dismiss or minimize their impact.

One of the greatest difficulties about critical thinking is defining it. There are hundreds of definitions. Sometimes, people think that "critical thinking" has to do with being critical. This simply isn't true. In fact, good critical thinkers are neither critical nor judgmental. Some perceive critical thinking as something troublemakers do or those who may disrupt routine or force someone to think unnecessarily…Critical Thinking is definitely causative, and sometimes, it gets “destructive” to upsetting the apple or being a troublemaker; Agile critical thinking brings strategic or collective thinking to the table, with the intent to practice constructive criticism or to make creative choices. The "solutionary" will be those who can distance themselves from themselves, their knowledge, their facts, and numbers, and who can look at people eye to eye and see and hear where they are and what they really mean. That's a good starting point.

Critical thinking has the potential to be a deeply creative process. The somewhat disparaging and throw-away use of 'logic and reason' suggests that people believe that critical thinkers contribute little beyond trading in deductive arguments. This is very much not the case. Critical thinking has the potential to be a deeply creative process, given that it includes the need to evaluate reasoning. This will very often require that we examine evidence (and other claims) in terms of other possibilities.How else can this be explained? What else do we need to know? What happens if we change this assumption? What is the significance of this claim? Why might this not be relevant? Questions such as these take us the way, way beyond deductive arguments and into areas that are not being considered in the discussion so far.

Critical thinking shall be practiced in a self-reflective manner. Being in a "state of information overload" should be a clue to us that we're probably reacting from a stress state and not thinking in a self-reflective manner in which Critical Thinking can be accessed successfully. That's a clear indicator that it's time to "stop" and "think." Then we can ask two starting questions - "How significant is this problem, issue, question, etc?" and secondly - "What's the goal here?" Otherwise, we will keep spinning out of control and engage in “busyness,” but not necessarily act with effectiveness. Acting like a whirling dervish due to information overload without "processing," or thinking about the information and applying the standard of "significance" leads to nowhere and just plain busyness. ’Overload’ is a key word here. If the excess of information is being presented, then you need to stop and access the information until you have a solid basis for moving forward. An agile critical thinking can get one soar like an eagle as well as to pick through the bones like a vulture." It means that you need to think at 50,000 feet as well as get into the nitty-gritty details.

Whether we like it or not, information overload, stress overload, demand overload all come with the territory of Corporate life. A practical solution is an agile critical thinking or "Critical Thinking on the Fly." It takes a lot of agilities, dealing with uncertainty or ambiguity and doing things we've never done before with confidence and mindfulness.


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