Importance Of Critical Thinking Skills In The Workplace

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If you're going to make a challenge, voice a specific critique, you have to have organizational courage--and that  sometimes means “speaking truth to power.” As Gormley continued, he added another all important nuance. “When you challenge someone else, raise doubt about their conclusions or evidence, you have to do it respectfully.

Self-doubt is  important because you need to communicate you’re not making a personal attack—that you too might be wrong, just as you think they could be wrong.”  The Georgetown professor stressed the point because so much work is now done collaboratively.

Gormley’s capsule definition is a mouthful, but every piece counts: “An open-minded but focused inquiry that seeks out relevant evidence to help analyze a question or hypothesis.” Which is to say, critical thinking is about asking tough questions, considering and re-considering your own views in light of evidence presented, and connecting what you know to what you’re learning as arguments unfold.

So if you sit through someone’s Powerpoint prez, what gets you to your final judgment—“That rings true,” or “Frankly, I’m not really convinced”—is your critical thinking.

“By my view there are three elements of critical thinking: doubt, self-doubt, and the search for good evidence.” His first element was obvious enough: “doubt” means being skeptical, or  “recognizing flaws in arguments, pointing out weaknesses in a particular case, being willing to speak up and point those out.” Doubt pairs nicely with his third element too: “distinguishing good evidence from bad, evaluating the sources of evidence, and the like.” Gormley’s real breakthrough was his second element: not just “doubt” but “self-doubt” too.

Here the concept borrows from theories of emotional intelligence and embeds leadership behavior of a special kind.

Thus the real trick is to operate with critical thinking across teams and groups, building a culture of people using it as a shared--and respectful--problem-solving tool.

“The old model of critical thinking was something like the Rodin statue—man sitting on a rock, alone, head bent over, deep in thought.

The best performance results from  harnessing all three of them.” (Note to readers: You might enjoy comparing and contrasting this discussion with my previous posts on creativity and problem-solving).

We moved from definitions to more serious implications when Bill further peeled apart the concept.


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