How To Develop Good Critical Thinking Skills
We are continually striving towards making better decisions and making improvements in systems and working procedures: successful organisations do this all of the time to continually refine and shape their offer. In just the same way Managers should be always looking to develop their critical thinking skills. Just because things are the way that they are that is no justification for just accepting this.
We should always be challenging our own assumptions and the things that underpin our beliefs and values. In this way we are judging the rationality of our justifications and developing them further.
Good critical thinking should allow you to see new possibilities and openings, rather than just following a simple, basic pathway. Good critical thinking will allow you to become more self-confident an to look at different views of what is going on, rather than just accepting things at face value.
Critical thinking is built around the following four components:
- Identifying and challenging assumptions: questioning the assumptions and their accuracy in any given situation. Question the assumption behind a new product or market approach with a well-supported challenge.
- See the importance of context: context always influences thought and action. An uncritical thinking approach would simply use methods and applications regardless of the situation that presents itself because, in the past, the approach has worked. This is very short-sighted. Good critical thinking is all about looking for ideas and methods that seem suitable for the context you are in now.
- Imagining alternatives: look for methods that others have used in both similar and different situations. Weigh up the effectiveness of such approaches and see if they can be applied to your set of circumstances. The broader the range of alternatives that you consider the better the end result will be.
- Seeing limitations: always identify, at an early stage, where the limitations sit regarding your current state of knowledge and experience. Always be sceptical about claims that seem over-sold or where this has been arrived at using a very small sample size. Be open to new ideas and approaches BUT ONLY when supported by convincing evidence and reasoning.
Critical thinking is a crucial part of a career as it develops your creativity and will keep you away from “do-nothing” cynicism.
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