In the workplace and even in times of high risk,We make hundreds of decisions every day and, whether we realize it or not, we’re all critical thinkers. Your company ERP ( emergency response plan) is more than a few pages or a section in your manuals, it is your get home alive calling card to surviving events!
We’re thinking critically whenever we weigh up our options, prioritize our responsibilities, or think ahead to the likely effects of our actions.
Critical thinking is the discipline of rigorously and skillfully using information, experience, observation, and reasoning to guide your decisions, actions and beliefs. You’ll need to actively question every step of your thinking process to do it well.
Prime yourself for success by adopting an appropriate mindset before you work on developing specific skills.
Being willing and able to explore alternative approaches and experimental ideas is crucial. Can you think through “what if” scenarios, create plausible options?
You’ll overlook important information if you allow yourself to become “blinkered,” so stay up to date with facts and trends in your company emergency plan (SWOT and PEST analyses can be useful here), and seek clarification when things are unclear.
It’s also important to emphasize logic over emotion. Emotion can be motivating but it can also lead you to take hasty and unwise action, so try to control your emotions and to be cautious in your judgments. Know when a conclusion is “fact” and when it is not. “Could-be-true” conclusions are based on assumptions and must be tested further.
Gather Information – Do you know how to gather information that’s relevant to the task at hand? Check out our article on Overcoming Information Overload to help you to manage large amounts of data.
1. Observe – You’ll need to be curious and notice the details within the mass of information. Work on practising your powers of observation.
2. Infer – You must be skilled at reasoning and extending logic to come up with plausible options or outcomes. Inductive Reasoning and Appreciation can all help you to do this.
3. Rationalize – This is about applying the laws of reason (induction, deduction, analogy) to judge an argument and determine its merits. Take a look at our article, Rational thinking, for information about how to do this.
4. Reflect – Regularly step back from the detail of your decision or problem, and look at the bigger picture. Consider what you’ve learned from your observations and experience. Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle can be a useful tool here.
5. Create – Use creative thinking tools, including
6. Analyze Cause and Effect – How does the motive or reason for an action or event (the cause) relate to its result or outcome. Combine these skills with the appropriate mindset so that you can make better decisions and adopt more effective courses of action.
“The eyes are of little use if the mind be blind.” ~ Arabian proverb.
Do you ever feel as if you’re living in your own “bubble,” and that you give barely a thought to the world outside?
Test yourself for a minute. From your commute, can you remember the name of the dime store you pass each day, or the sequence of events at that motor accident you witnessed a few weeks ago? How aware are you of problems growing between your colleagues? And how about that intentional misspelling of “remember” a couple of sentences ago – did you notice that? We all get lost in our thoughts sometimes or flit through days on autopilot. However, when we do so, we lose out in the amount and quality of information we absorb, in the potential to be inspired or intrigued, and in our ability to engage with the people, places and situations around us.
When you’re observant, you use your senses to examine something that you’re curious about, and you evaluate what you experience.
“Observing” is not the same thing as “seeing.” Seeing is passive. For example, you see everything around you as you go to work, but you rarely look for anything specific or note down information to use later. Observation, however, is a process of paying attention, intently and actively, so that you can gather specific information to assess….