Thinking skills are vital, not only in business but in life. Having worked with people for years and development our 10/10 leadership development programme, thinking skills form a crucial part.
- Critical thinking
- Creative thinking
- Innovative thinking and
- Solution focused
are four of the ten elements in this programme.
Now more than ever critical thinking is an essential skill to effectively diagnose problems. But how do you develop critical thinking skills in your team?
What Is Critical Thinking?
It is difficult to define what critical thinking is and even more difficult to assess. However, bizfluent.com describes it as follows: “Critical thinking is accomplished by replacing egocentrically minded thoughts with thoughts that understand that normal human thinking is flawed. Critical thinkers always attempt to reason in a fair and consistent manner.” The site explains the concept further… “The main skills and qualities included and needed for critical thinking are rationality, self-awareness, honesty, open-mindedness, discipline, and judgment.”
There are three research-based models that are frequently used in academia as well as in the business world: Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment, Pearson’s RED Critical Thinking Model, and Blooms taxonomy. It’s true that there are many other taxonomies available to work with – some of them more complex that Bloom’s – but Bloom’s is easy to understand and implement so it is the most widely used.
Levels of Critical Thinking
The lower levels of Bloom’s relate simply to remembering and understanding. These are important skills in business as even top executives need to recall information, list items, locate, memorise, and define things. As far as understanding goes, most employees are called upon to interpret data, summarise, discuss, or paraphrase information.
The mid-level relates to applying information. This means the ability to use the information in a different format. An example of this level of critical thinking is to take raw data and illustrate it in a diagram or chart.
The top levels – where the most sophisticated critical thinking occurs – are the creating (data is used to create something new), analysing (data is taken apart and categorised, relationships are researched and contrasts are made) and evaluating (data is judged, critiqued, etc.) levels of thinking.
Encouraging Critical Thinking
For a team to be innovating, critical thinking is essential. You should be encouraging your team members to judge, to question, to look beneath what’s on the surface.
Your own critical thinking can be improved by being aware of your biases and trying to look past them; constantly asking questions and listening instead of speaking; evaluating all information; collaborating with a range of diverse people.
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