“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”
If that sounds hard to do it’s because it is. The reason it is hard lies in the fact that we are geared to think regardless of whether we exercise critical thinking or not. Left to our own devices we are prone to biases, poor judgement, prejudices, distorted thinking and partial thinking where we take a fact and distort it by filtering it through our own biased perception.
Through the exercise of critical thinking (which is an acquired skill) Democritus was able to develop the Atomic Theory and through lack of critical thinking, Marco Polo (who is admirable in his own right) actually believed he saw unicorns.
Critical thinking is needed for sound decision-making. And to improve our decision-making ability we can use a relatively simple five-step process to improve. If five steps sounds like too much hard work there is an even shorter three-step approach you can apply that Brian Oshiro supports.
Critical thinking, of course, requires efficient use of executive function which is the way through which we achieve better awareness and self-regulation.
These are all steps that lead to a more reasonable world. The world is, unreasonable, because it has unreasonable people in it. Unreasonable people are often the product of a pathology. A more reasoned approach, employed consistently, leads to the creation of culture and peer-group pressure which, in turn, lead to a more reasonable world.
We need the world to be more reasonable and critical thinking more prevalent because we live in a time where volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (the U.S. Military’s VUCA world) is now the norm.
Much of what we do in business and, by association, life has originated from Army principles and concepts. VUCA is not different and its demand to think differently about the present and the future.
It is no accident that critical thinkers prevail in a VUCA world. Breaking through the fog requires new skills, talents and approaches.
We are in a new century. The challenges we face are also new in terms of scale and nature. Pandemics, the climate crisis, population shifts and maybe, even, a global water shortage. Require a drastically new approach to managing planetary threats and resources.
Nothing will be achieved by relying on yesterday’s tools and that includes the way we think.
I know you, you know that coffee is needed. And, of course, croissants, donuts, cookies and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.