Because critical thinking is not our default mode of thinking, there are conditions and helpful questions to get into the critical thinking mode. Prepare for critical thinking by using techniques to produce the two conditions required for critical thinking.
- It's one thing to talk about critical thinking in theory, but without the right conditions, it becomes almost academic and seems less business practical. Let's make sure you have the two necessary critical thinking conditions in place. The first condition, the ability to change your mind. This ability is to critical thinking what electricity is to a Tesla. You can't run your critical thinking engine without it. It may be easier to think about how to change other people's minds, but that's not one of the conditions. We humans love being right and hate being wrong. But as John Stuart Mill said, "He who knows only his own side of the case "knows little of that." Use this scenario and practice this technique with your team. Let's say your company is booming and one again you need more space to grow the business. Break decisions into different options. For example, to move now, move later, remodel the existing place, or randomly assign options to members of your team and then have each person argue their position. Then switch sides and argue for opposing positions. This trusting debate technique works. The second condition, reflective skepticism. There are 10 types of questions you can use to help your team embrace reflective skepticism and shift into critical thinking mode. Let's get back to that scenario where you need more space to grow the business. You've debated different sides, but there's still a lot to consider. Use this scenario and go through each of these types of questions yourself or with your team. After each question, pause and discuss how each statement may reflect a critical thinking error. Question one. Is this a fact? Like, the new parking lot would accommodate 63 cars. Or, a value claim, like a new parking lot would have plenty of parking. The new office space would have great views. Question two. How relevant is this information, claim, or reason? Prices should be low because they can see rates are higher than ever. Question three. Is this statement factually accurate? According to our broker, the vacancy rates are going down. Question four. Is this source credible? It's a great time to sell our building and buy a new one. Question five. Are these claims or arguments ambiguous? Our growth will continue at the same rate. Question six. Are we uncovering assumptions? Gen Zers need space for their ping pong tables. Question seven. Are we detecting bias? Last time we waited too long to move, three of our best engineers quit. Question eight. Are we spotting logical fallacies? Private spaces are best, but we don't want to eliminate the open office concept. Question nine. Are there inconsistencies in this line of reasoning? The 3rd quarter is the least disruptive time to move. Question 10. How strong is this argument or claim? Use these questions to explore a decision you're grappling with. Model for your team that changing your mind is okay and often necessary when making decisions and you'll lock down the conditions necessary for critical thinking.
- Comparing critical and strategic thinking
- Minimizing bad judgements
- Recognizing cognitive bias
- Using counterfactual thinking
- Overcoming loss aversion
- Avoiding logical fallacies
- Creating a culture of critical thinking