More than 400 senior HR experts were asked in a survey to name the most imperative ability their employees will require in the following five years, critical thinking ranked the highest – surpassing innovation or the application of information technology. There is no dearth of examples of what happens when an absence of critical thinking in business falls into a complete frameworks failure.
“Using a structured thinking process will actually save employees time in the long run because they avoid making mistakes such as jumping to the wrong conclusion or making a decision that others reject down the road.” said Jen Lawrence, co-author of “Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2014). Development in thinking requires a gradual process requiring plateaus of learning and just plain hard work. It is not possible to become an excellent thinker simply because one wills it. Changing one’s habits of thought is a long-range project, happening over years, not weeks or months. The essential traits of a critical thinker require an extended period of development.
How, then, can we develop as critical thinkers? How can we help ourselves practice better thinking in everyday life?
Critical thinkers are open-minded, poised, unequivocal, not dependent on others’ consent and are capable of seeing past their emotions when making decisions, Siebold said. To think critically, he advised asking oneself, how one makes most of their decisions. Is it based on concrete proof, rather than a gut feeling? Can the decision be defended beyond the individual’s instinct, or be upheld by anything that is not emotionally related? If a person can answer “yes” to these questions, he or she is engaging in a critical thought process.
Critical thinking, perhaps more than any other business skill set, can make the difference between success and failure.