Critical Thinking is a tool we use daily without being conscious of it. It allows us to discriminate between spurious and sound speeches, presentations, documents, and many more. In essence, it is the thinking about thinking, that allows us to evaluate whether the logic behind arguments is sufficient to support those arguments. The need for it is especially keen in smart consulting services. It enables investigating problems, posing the right questions, and coming up with creative and compelling new solutions.
Everything in the business environment is constructed on logical reasoning, be it business processes, governance procedures, PMO tools, project plans, products, etc. Surely some goals could be set on rather intuitive basis, but reaching those goals in the real world involves purely logical activities like setting targets, planning to reach those targets, planning for contingencies, etc.
To be able to identify causes of inefficiency and to do things better than before, we have to be able to break down the logical steps that led to the current solutions. Then we need to analyse these solutions, identify all leaps of faith, and constantly look for better approaches. Moreover, we should always stay alert to our own propensities to pass rash and biased judgements. All of this is embodied by Critical Thinking.
Thinking about thinking, is in large part common sense. We all do it at varying degrees each day. But can common sense be taught? Lucky for us, some smart people have thought about our thinking processes over the centuries and noticed certain patterns, e.g., common pitfalls where our reasoning fails, thinking structures that render valid (or not) conclusions, and how sound thinking can be best expressed to convince others. All of these taken together form the academic discipline of Critical Thinking. A rigorous study of it may not teach precisely common sense as such, but it can give a structure to it that makes our analyses and judgements both more accurate and more articulate.
Harnessing the fruits of centuries of philosophical inquiry into thinking is a simple step that can have significant benefits. As author of “Critical Thinking – an introduction to the basic skills” William Hughes puts it, it is “a matter of intellectual self-respect”, and not least of all, it can provide a decisive edge both in our personal lives and our businesses.
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