Sunday, January 5, 2020

Critical Thinking as a state of Applied Intelligence

Critical Thinking is contextual, both reality-oriented and evidence-oriented. 

Due to an unprecedented level of uncertainty, velocity, and complexity, the assumption that there is a single cause to a “problem” is often limited, business problems become over-complex and interdependent, misunderstanding turns out to be one of the biggest causes of many human problems.

Thus, Critical Thinking is more critical than ever as it provides a mental framework and a useful methodology to either improve decision effectiveness or problem-solving fluency. Here is a multitude of perspectives on critical thinking as a state of applied intelligence.

The ability to organize knowledge into an in-depth understanding via questioning and conceptual reasoning:
Critical Thinking evolves the multitude of thought processes and logical reasoning via connection, discernment, penetration, and perception. The core skills of critical thinking include analysis of argumentation (both explicit and implicit reasoning), the ability for examining inference via analyzing, evaluating, and producing coherent argumentation.

In the digital age, with overwhelming growth of information and fast pace of changes, the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened, the digital workforce today has to practice real critical thinking, learn and relearn all the time, and then, apply those lessons to succeed in new situations.

It’s important to leverage critical thinking for knowing by listening to or looking at; understanding through asking the right questions, and responding to what needs to be said or done. Critical Thinkers usually have an ability to be able to not only ask the right questions but rather absorb information forecast potentials; risks/benefits; mitigation and compare and contrast options, facts, etc, with the goal to improve problem-solving competency.

The ability to gain the right knowledge with understanding is wisdom: Critical thinking is a state of applied intelligence. Critical Thinking should combine different thinking processes, to gather a mass of information, break it apart and reconstructed with a level of accuracy, projecting futuristic events, numbers, etc, to gain the right knowledge for making sound judgments. Assumptions and prejudices are due to a lack of deeper understanding. When you intend to understand, interpret and judge something, to gain the right knowledge and deepen understanding, you need to form a critical opinion of it based on facts, discerned information, common understanding, and clarified notions

To practice critical thinking, you need background knowledge on the subject matter under discussion. To put another way, analysis of any kind would be unconscionable without the critical thinking being applied to some degree, either in evaluation or dissection or in an explanation of the diagnosis. Real critical thinking helps us steer away from “conventional wisdom,” question individual, collective, social assumptions and reframe the inquiry to gain true wisdom.

Digital leaders and professionals today should, and perhaps must cultivate critical thinking as a core skill to develop problem-solving capability and techniques such as providing evidence, recommendations, predictions, principles, etc, gain relevant information and knowledge, and deepen understanding for improving their professional competency.

Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking are ideal "Thinking Pairs": The real Critical Thinking evolves deep thinking process usually with Creative Thinking embedded. More specifically, critical thinking includes both rational thinking (define the frame of reference, compare and contrast, etc.) and creative thinking (a result of holding the contrasting factors in the mind until something new appears). 

Such a “golden thinking pair” encourages creative problem-solving by opening up with diverse viewpoints, ideas against logic and creativity, careful and comprehensive analysis and synthesis, and getting input from a broad range of personalities and cognitive differences of the people on the particular matter. In the past, the share and spread of knowledge and skills could survive in isolation. However, in the hyperconnected and interdependent digital era, the faster the dissemination, the better the response. Learning, sharing, and coaching need to become digital new normal.

Critical Thinking is contextual, both reality-oriented and evidence-oriented. The real critical thinking will be able to help drive improvement, create new ideas or build solutions and make them stick successfully. Critical thinking skills further impact leadership effectiveness or professional quality and problem-solving capability.


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