Thursday, January 16, 2020

“Critical Thinker" Board Director

High-mature digital boards with “cool-headed” directors who can practice critical thinking are driving force for changes and exemplary of contemporary leadership. 

The Corporate Board's role, in large part, is to make good decisions that enhance the value creation for the organization. Boards need to work closely with the management for mastering strategy oversight and risk intelligence, identify both business opportunities and risks, keep focusing on doing fundamental things right.

Ultimately, the corporate board takes the praise or blame depending largely on their abilities to influence the business outcomes. The "critical thinking" Board directors are in strong demand to steer the business in the right direction in the face of today's "VUCA" digital new normal. More specifically, critical thinking requires:

Starting with a mentally neutral position; no biases or emotional quandary:
Every decision requires a different way of thinking. Critical thinking is crucial for the board of directors to make strategic decisions effectively. Leverage critical thinking and being objective means you are not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; but make judgments or decisions based on unbiased fact, dispassionate examination, and objective opinions.

It is critical for digital board directors to embrace cognitive differences and practice multifaceted thinking (critical thinking, independent thinking, strategic thinking, and innovative thinking, etc.) skills for improving decision effectiveness, willing to listen to the diverse viewpoint, zooming out to capture the bigger picture and seeking new information/knowledge to gain a better understanding and holistic view.

To be objective, corporate board directors must apply critical thinking, step out of what they are trying to understand, remove the “old box” shaped via the conventional wisdom or group thinking, learn to be impartial which means objective, detached, just, fair, equal, open-minded, unbiased, nonpartisan, unprejudiced, without fear or favor, think more independently and in an out-of-box way, zoom out in order to capture the holistic picture for improving collective decision maturity.

Advocate evident-based decision-making and understand the outcomes based on the facts alone: With the rapid changes facing in business today, overly rigid process or static information also becomes a big barrier in decision making. In practice, the bad decision is made neither via art or science, but via playing politics. From top-down, most decisions are made on the basis of who they know, how much they like them and how they look in political circles.

Fundamentally, every decision making is for solving problems large or small. Thus, the board leaders need to spend more time concentrating on getting to the root of the problem, solving it, and understand the outcomes based on the facts alone. The other pitfall is that in most cases, data captured may be fact-based, but it’s either out of date or irrelevant or the data has no integrity. The leverage point is about how to make the right decision at the right time with the right information by the right talent. Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends.

Apply experience or inherent logic: Critical thinking is important for BoDs as the business critic, who can provide excellent feedback which gives the top management accurate information to improve; great questions to contemplate, and keen insight to gain an in-depth understanding of their business and people. The corporate board is responsible for ensuring an appropriate mix of thought processes, capabilities, skills, knowledge, and experience are present or available for it to fulfill its function.

Critical thinking is an iterative thought process leading to a series of refinements based on learning and experience. One's own experience teaches more as it generates emotions, good and bad, that can serve as effective mental markers for the association. The real critical thinking far more outweighs the conventional critical thinking techniques, such as reason, logic, calculation, and there is creative thinking embedded in it, the conscious weighing of expected outcomes, etc, to improve decision maturity.

Achieve outcomes with a high probability through deductive reasoning: The true critical thinking and constructive criticism are very important for the business’s improvement continuum. The corporate board plays a crucial role in overseeing business strategy and setting policies. Asking good questions is not the “wasting time” activity, it can help to clarify the vision and bring new insight about how to steer the company in the right direction.

The corporate board needs to getting input from a broad range of personalities and cognitive difference of people on a particular matter, think both in macro and micro way, and try to tie inter-dependencies into the mix and believe, to your core, understand the emotional component, work through the logic, reconcile differences and inconsistencies in data or sources, use a set of criteria for evaluating information and conclusions and considering unintended consequences.

 Make the best decision you can base on a sound process: Critical thinking board directors will be able to drive improvement, create new ideas or solutions and make them stick or successfully, conclude with a result that actualizes the objectives. In the business world, at least, you can't always wait for the "best" decision to emerge. You have to make the best decision you can, based on a sound process and have the guts to admit when a mid-course correction is in order.

Rather than "good" or "bad,” critical thinking is ever-improving. It generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions.

High-mature digital boards with “cool-headed” directors who can practice critical thinking are driving force for changes and exemplary of contemporary leadership. The criteria to select BoDs perhaps include experience in the industrial ecosystem, high-ethical standards, critical thinking and independent thinking capability, communication objectivity, sound judgment, and the ability to make effective decisions consistently. The Board of Directors as top leadership roles should apply real critical thinking, have multi-intelligent wisdom, to envision and lead the organization towards its future confidently.


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