Surveys of Chief Human Resource Officers list Critical Thinking Skills as #1 attribute they are looking for in new hires.
We can all make improvements in this area. Here are three excellent suggestions from an HBR article on how we can improve our Critical Thinking.
1. Question Assumptions. This can be difficult since – by definition – our assumptions are in the background of our thinking. Work to make them explicit. For example, “This plan is based on the following key assumptions . . .” and push one another to write these out. You can also ask yourselves “What if” questions – such as “what if our biggest customer/funder dropped their support?” or “what if some of our key employees left.”
2. Reason Through Logic. Write out the logical chain of your thinking – beginning with your assumptions and the current facts. Then spell out the steps of your reasoning that are leading you to your final conclusion. Be sure you have evidence that backs up every step of your logic chain. Have someone objective to the situation check your reasoning.
3. Diversify Thought. Make sure that your team is made up of people who bring various backgrounds – in every way – and beliefs to your discussions. Proactively seek out people you know may disagree with the direction you are considering. If you find that your team agrees quickly on decisions, this could be a warning sign. Watch out for GroupThink.
Bad decisions are often the result of poor critical thinking. Use these ideas to more carefully think through your challenges and design responses that make an important Mission Impact.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Bouygues, H. L. “3 Simple Habits to Improve Your Critical Thinking,” Harvard Business Review online, May 6, 2019.