Critical thinking in business
When you talk to a typical C suite executive, business leader or entrepreneur you find they see a business which is not yet at its full operational potential.
The business could be so much more, from people to products, services and their impacts, there is a potential to improve.
A deeper dive within most organizations will see similar thoughts and opinions and a full range of emotional alignment. From not aligned to being fully tuned into the business culture.
The challenge for many companies is how can the potential growth be realized and enthused across the whole business? How can a business engage deeper within its organization to stimulate improvement and not take for granted its current performance levels?
The answers are not found in the one day workshop, 2 day seminar or week course. The evolution of such thinking comes from a long term commitment and habitual change. The good news is we can help create the framework to assist these changes to help improve quality critical thinking through any business.
Critical thinking for business defined
This is the way in which a person assesses, reconstructs and analyzes information on any subject, challenge or information. A leading manager shows signs of positive critical thought when it is clearly directed, measured, disciplined and willing to correct and learn.
Why critical thinking will be in increasing demand
A study by the world economic forum shows Critical Thinking as a leading skill needed for the future competencies for the 21st century. The ability to draw upon deeper data insights through new sources such as big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning will need to be guided by humans for ever more complex business decisions.
You might be wondering if you have the powers and potential to develop your own critical thinking skills or the correct people in your business to implement it successfully. Well, here is the kicker news! I have created a short introduction to help you identify those within your organization with the skills to develop and also the steps to start its introduction into your business.
Which phase of critical thinking do the people around you apply to tasks?
The Doer. This is the person that simply reacts and does the same process time and time again. They are often highly motivated, keen but unaware of the limits to their approach in problem solving.
Pros: Although this person is at the very start of the critical thinking journey they provide consistency and predictability of their approach
Cons: Habit cycles are hard to break so the person may feel threatened, frustrated or unwilling to change.
The Good Samaritan: This is the person that is aware of the need to improve their critical thinking skills but currently lack the skills and experience in doing so.
Pros: This person offers hope in the path to true critical thought. They can become great early adaptors of the management approach.
Cons: Results may be variable for a period of time due to lack of consistency, skills and experience.
The marathon runner: The need for practice and implementation of assisted frameworks to develop the training skills needed and stamina for sustained critical thought can be seen in this person. They often use a set framework or system to help their performance.
Pros: This person is well on the path to success, encourage their growth and allow for more growth and experience.
Cons: The initial lack of experience may still slow the effectiveness of the person. This can be sometimes misunderstood as a lack of confidence.
Tips to help develop critical thinking skills
Time management will be a key on your journey to develop critical thinking skills. Use key trigger times during your day to reflect and question specific parts of your thoughts and behaviors. Examples include, every time you grab a coffee or a drink, during the last or first 3 minutes of your commute. Use these trigger situations to ask “What did I think about today?”, “When did I do my best thinking to solve a challenge today?”, “What have I done today to help complete my long term goals?”, “How did I use my principles and values within my work today?”
It would be important of course to take a little time with each question. It would also be useful to record your observations so that you are forced to spell out details and be explicit in what you recognize and see. As time passes, you will notice patterns in your thinking.
Goal Setting a Solution
Select a challenge or problem to be solved. Then create a goal setting solution to that challenge. Be as factual and specific as possible. Do not be fazed by unknown answers, missing information or the complexity of the challenge. Simply take each point at a time.
From the summary of your challenge identify what classification of issue you are facing. Is it cultural, systemic, technological, training, motivation etc.? From this, identify the areas that are within your control to solve and concentrate on those.
Measure the data, metrics and information you need with confidence in its quality.
Select the method of analysis and understanding of the information collected. Use standard forms of analysis where applicable but be open to new methods of data visualization to offer new insights.
Create the options and choices available to solve the challenge. Create a mini SWOT or pro and cons for each option.
Align your options to the future business vision and mission principles. Take a strategic approach and implement.
Measure the impactful outputs of your action. Design metrics to be flexible to time sensitive change before concluding the end frequency. Be open and prepared to amend your solutions as new problem status emerges or new insights are provided.
Ask your friends and colleagues for feedback of some personality traits you could develop and improve. Ensure this feedback is provided in a safe environment with no consequences. The use of anonymous 360 degree forms can help. Work on one trait each month and repeat on an ongoing basis.
Learn more about cognitive bias
Take some periodic reading about cognitive biases. Suggested reading material includes:
Fooled by randomness: The hidden role of chance in life and in the markets – Nassim Taleb
Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Think Twice, Harnessing the power of counter intuition – Michael Mauboussin
Learn more about Ego
After watching this video, how do you recognize your own ego and its influence on your daily life?
Business Cultural Diversity
Many companies will promote their diversity, but for your business and industry, what does this mean? Look and review the actual accepted norms of behavior in given situations. From dress, to humor, to protocol to everything facet of the business. What is encouraged or frowned upon?
You can see from this article that the journey for a management team and business will be an ongoing solution. The use of third party help can assist and accelerate a business identify its own cultural bias and fast track some starting frameworks to implement improved critical thinking for your business. Tools such as gamification, improved business intelligence, data visualization and analytics software all can help the path to a competitive advantage. The implementation of such ideas is exactly how JAMSO helps clients across the world. If you are a business still seeking improvement through your team members then review more of our free information.