The practice of Thinking Critically

April 7, 2011 | By More

I have been asked on more than one occasion if there is a way to think more clearly. Not only for business problems but also for personal situations too.  Immediate solutions that seem obvious often turn out to be inappropriate after careful consideration, or more often, after the event.  So how can we improve the way we deal with the challenges in our lives?   Here’s what I found which some of you may find useful – a way to think critically.  Watch this video:

Let’s summarise:

Critical Thinking is not about mastering the solution to a problem, as many of us have been taught in school to pass exams. When you improve your critical thinking you will be giving yourself the tools to create your own effective solutions to solve a multitude of unfamiliar problems.

Critical Thinking is not about ‘thinking a lot’. It is about reviewing what are the basis of our assumptions, flaws and biases, many of which are based on our past experiences, usually through culture and what you have learnt previously.

Critical Thinking is driven by yourself – you must want to do it. To do something well and correctly you must be prepared to seek out knowledge and be guided by evidence, even if it refutes with your cherished beliefs.

Critical thinking requires determination. You must be prepared to do the work required to find out what is necessary for your product to be successful in the market. Don’t just believe in your own thoughts and design a product to sell – find out what the users want and design the product to be bought instead! (read more about Don’t make a product to sell).

Critical thinking requires clarity. Be sceptical about ‘good ideas’. This is not about simply rejecting any idea – it is about suspending judgment until evidence is available. And if evidence is not forthcoming, ask why it is difficult to obtain and if there can be another way to get it.

Critical thinkers are objective. Good ideas are not based on emotions or that it is already generally accepted (read more about Coal powered Electric Cars). Good ideas must be logically sound and based on reason. There must be a case to support it, in the case of business, a business case.

Critical Thinking can be sabotaged by any one of these factors: intellectual arrogance, unwillingness to listen, intellectual laziness, lack of respect for evidence and reason. Many people prefer things to be ‘black or white’ (“if it is not this, then it must be that”) – because it is easier to manage. Things are often never ‘black or white’.

A critical thinker can handle uncertainty and is consciously aware where the unknown is. She can wait for evidence while proceeding in a particular direction, and prepared to change when new evidence presents itself – as all good entrepreneurs must. She will also prepare her team for that situation.

In this way, the critical thinking entrepreneur develops the discipline to manage her team through uncertainty in a fast paced schedule, while preparing them to handle new developments. Such an entrepreneur is also likely to empower her team more effectively to build a strong business.

Are you a critical thinker?

Further reading:
Critical Thinking

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Category: Self Improvement

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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

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