Critical thinking is critical to business success

Exploring all options as a team leads to better outcomes

Have you ever fired off an email response to a question about your business and then wanted to hit the recall button after you gave your answer additional thought?

In today’s frantic business world, we often feel pressured to respond quickly to an issue or question without giving it the consideration it deserves.

So what exactly is critical thinking?

Author Steve Siebold, who wrote “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class,” told Business News Daily that critical thinking is “the ability to remove all emotion from an issue and observe the facts objectively to make a logical decision.”

Siebold said too many teams in the workplace tend to shoot from the hip, so to speak, making a decision based on a gut feeling or intuition instead of taking the time to gather facts before taking action.

Such a lack of fully thinking out a solution is in part because it is not being made a priority in the classroom, according to Jen Lawrence, co-author of “Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team.”

“Schools are no longer routinely teaching basic thinking processes, such as rhetoric or the scientific method,” Lawrence told Business News Daily. “Many companies find they need to provide training in critical thinking.

“Using a structured thinking process will actually save employees time in the long run because they avoid making mistakes such as jumping to the wrong conclusion or making a decision others reject down the road,” Lawrence said.

According to business.com, in 2018 the U.S. Department of Labor identified critical thinking as a raw material for vital workplace skills, particularly decision-making and solving problems.

Critical thinking is becoming an important skill for employers. According to the Wall Street Journal, an Indeed.com analysis found mention of critical thinking in employment postings have doubled in the past decade. In another survey by the American Management Association, more than 70 percent of managers responding to the survey listed critical thinking as a crucial element of workforce development.

Business.com listed a game plan to ensure a team of workers is utilizing sufficient and fact-based thinking to reach a solution.

Brainstorm: This should be the first step in critical thinking, leaving no idea off the table. Opening the process of finding solutions to a group of thinkers will likely produce answers one person alone might not have generated. Make sure the ideas are focused on finding a solution for the situation at hand.

Choose three options: From the list of ideas during the brainstorming session, choose three that the team supports. Business.com suggests writing the ideas at the top of a whiteboard and then listing the pros and cons of each. This will help emphasize which solution is the most rational.

Go with one solution: Through systematic team discussion, choose one solution that best addresses the issue at hand.

Make a plan: Put a plan in place to address the situation, complete with timelines and a schematic of who is responsible for which aspect of that solution. This will give each member of the team a focus on his or her responsibilities.

Complete the plan: Many a solid plan has faltered because there was no follow-up and the timeline was not a priority, business.com observed. Individuals who have been given assignments in the problem-solving process should be able to recognize the value of the overall plan, and managers should review timelines to ensure every element is being completed.

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