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tools of critical thinking 2023

tools of critical thinking

 

This essay refers to some of the ideas in my earlier post, “A Decision-Making Framework for Leaders,” and serves as a complement to that piece. As a leader making decisions for your team or business, I’m going to share some particular critical thinking techniques with you today. tools of critical thinking

What is Critical Thinking?

 

Any topic, piece of material, or issue may be thought about using the critical thinking method, which involves expertly analysing, evaluating, and rebuilding one’s own thinking.

It requires strong problem-solving and communication skills, as well as a dedication to overcome our preconceptions.

Or, to put it another way, the art of critical thinking is thinking about how we think. It involves acquiring knowledge, understanding it, applying it, analysing it, and synthesising it.

Any stage of the decision-making process can involve critical thinking. And the objective is to make sure we carefully consider our thinking and use that thinking in various contexts to generate options and alternatives

Why is critical thinking important?

 

Because it helps you solve problems, make decisions, and communicate clearly, critical thinking is crucial. Additionally, it fosters your intellectual independence, curiosity, and creativity. You can challenge your own and other people’s perspectives, increase your knowledge, and enhance your learning outcomes by exercising critical thinking. The ability to think critically is another crucial skill for the twenty-first century because it enables you to deal with complex and uncertain situations as well as adapt to shifting circumstances and expectations. tools of critical thinking

Critical Thinking Is An Important Part of Decision-Making

tools of critical thinking
tools of critical thinking

It’s crucial to know that critical thinking may exist outside of a particular decision-making procedure. In a similar vein, decision-making doesn’t necessarily need careful consideration.

However, I’m focusing on critical thinking in the context of problems and decision-making for the sake of this post.

In addition, I’m going to provide 9 critical thinking techniques that everyone can use, no matter where they are in their leadership development. There are so many tools available; if you have a favourite that you’ve found beneficial, please let me know.

So, regardless of:

either a new leader seeking for tools to help you think more thoroughly about a problem or an experienced leader just starting to develop your critical thinking and decision-making muscles.
You can find something here. tools of critical thinking

What are some critical thinking tools?

 

Making wise decisions and strengthening problem-solving abilities require the ability to think critically. There are various helpful tools available to assist you improve your ability to think and make decisions. For instance, the Socratic method uses questions and responses to encourage critical thought and point out any errors in reasoning. The scientific method is a methodical, empirical methodology based on observation, experimentation, and analysis that is used to study phenomena. A scenario, project, or decision’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be assessed using the SWOT analysis framework.

The six thinking hats method involves employing various modes of thought, symbolized by variously colored hats, to look at a problem or topic from many angles. Last but not least, the five whys is a technique for identifying a problem or issue’s core cause by asking why repeatedly. All of these tools can assist you in creating and comparing alternatives as well as better understanding the internal and external aspects that affect your goals. tools of critical thinking

9 Critical Thinking Tools For Leaders

 

 

  1. Decision Tree
  2. Changing Your Lens
  3. Active Listening & Socratic Method
  4. Decision Hygiene Checklist
  5. Where Accuracy Lives
  6. The 5 Whys
  7. RAID Log
  8. 7 So-Whats
  9. Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

1. Decision-Making Tree

tools of critical thinking
tools of critical thinking

Before entering a decision-making meeting, the decision-making tree may be helpful in determining how collaborative or inclusive you should be and who should be involved in the conversation on a certain subject.

This tree is a straightforward yes/no procedure that can help you decide whether you need assistance from others to help you make a certain choice and, if so, who you should involve. tools of critical thinking

2. Changing Your Lens

Changing your perspective, the context, or the reality involves approaching challenges from a different angle. Let’s delve a bit more into each of those.

 

Point of View

As they apply to the issue at hand, ask yourself these questions.

Can you alter your viewpoint?
How is the issue described from the CEO’s, the front-line employees’, the clients’, and related groups’ perspectives? Adjust them as necessary; the idea is to view the issue from the viewpoint of others inside your particular organisation.
Depending on their point of view, they will all approach the issue differently and characterise it in different ways. You may have a greater awareness of all the implications of the current issue by comprehending all the points of view. tools of critical thinking

Context

 

We frequently approach issues from our own functional perspectives. It will be a financial problem if I work in finance. If you ask an IT professional, they will probably all point to the same issue and say, “It’s an IT problem.”

Can you alter the problem’s context when defining it? Ask someone who lives somewhere else to define the issue for you. Utilise their viewpoint to produce that other viewpoint.

Modify your reality.
Consider this: “What if I…

some of these restrictions were lifted?
Possess some of these tools?
Instead of doing Y, was able to perform X?
You could discover an alternative method to characterise the issue by altering the facts,

tools of critical thinking

3. Active Listening & Socratic Method

tools of critical thinking
tools of critical thinking

In this, the Socratic technique is combined with active listening. One of the key abilities you’ll need to hone in order to improve your critical thinking is active listening. In my post on challenging talks, I also discussed deep listening and active listening.

Because you must muffle your own prejudices and opinions in order to hear what someone else has to say. It’s about keeping focused and in the moment. tools of critical thinking

Listening Skills include:

 

Stay focused and in the now.
Pose incisive, open-ended inquiries.
Recognise your prejudices
Don’t preempt or interrupt.
Ask questions and display curiosity (80/20 speaking time)
Restate the facts and speak it aloud in their language.
Embrace the silence
From cosmesis to conversation to activity to deep listening
You must be conscious of your own prejudices as you search for the issue, discuss what success looks like, and consider what the underlying issue is. The ideas that you can relate to since you already agree with them.

Learn to ask questions and listen for insight.

It’s quite tempting to rush in and provide clarification while someone is still thinking when you’re just trying to comprehend and gather information.

However, they are truly thinking, so you must take a back seat and let it happen.

This kind of attentive listening can aid in a deeper understanding of issues when combined with the fundamental Socratic questions.

Simply emphasise one or two questions you’ve never asked before to clarify, comprehend the initial problem, or raise some presumptions to apply this. Take one question from each category to test out, and then listen for the response.

As basic as it may seem, this is a critical thinking skill. Finding out the truth about what’s happening can help you identify the situation’s underlying causes.

 

4. Decision Hygiene Checklist

 

When we think about active listening and thoughtful questioning, we need to be careful that we are learning about another person’s perspective without imposing our own.

The Decision Hygiene Checklist can help in this situation. Make careful to do the analysis in a neutral setting while we’re still in the process of collecting and assessing data. Keep your conclusions to yourself.

People who have made bad mistakes in the past could also need to be isolated. Avoid bringing up previous choices or results since you want to acquire knowledge from them that hasn’t been contaminated.

Use excellent decision hygiene while asking for feedback from others in the following ways:

Ask for comments without keeping others’ ideas and beliefs out of bounds.

To avoid giving away your findings, frame your request for comments in a neutral way.
When requesting information about prior choices, exclude others from the results.
Make a list of the facts and information you will need to offer feedback for a particular decision before you make it.
Ask for any information that hasn’t been supplied, hold the persons giving and receiving feedback accountable, and refuse to offer feedback if the person receiving it is unable to supply pertinent information.
Use these extra types of decision hygiene when working in a group:

Before a group discussion or before participants share their opinions with one another, separately seek feedback.

tools of critical thinking

5. Where Accuracy Lives

tools of critical thinking
tools of critical thinking

Another strategy is to consider where accuracy resides, along with the theme of realising that our personal ideas might conflict with or taint reality and our ability to make decisions. tools of critical thinking

The Inside View is based on your individual viewpoint, experiences, and convictions. The Outside View is how other people perceive the world and your current circumstances. The truth may lie anywhere in the centre.
This tool is really easy to use. Describe the difficulty from your point of view and begin with your insider perspective. Note down your comprehension, analysis, and perhaps even conclusions.

Then you may take that hat off and see the world outside, almost like De Bono’s six hats. Describe the scenario as it appears from the outside. Consider how a coworker may see this issue if they were experiencing it. How could their viewpoints be different? What sort of remedies may they provide?

Then you combine those two stories. One benefit of the outside perspective is that you may obtain statistics on some of the data you are viewing.

Getting a foundational understanding of what is statistically demonstrated to be true, uncontaminated by the insider’s perspective, can be quite beneficial.

Once you’ve completed this procedure, consider these questions.

Has this genuinely altered my perspective?
Do I have any biases? tools of critical thinking

6. The 5 Whys: Root Cause Analysis

This is a pretty straightforward method that begins by outlining the issue or flaw then asking why again and again until you reach the fifth why. Usually, here is where you’ll start looking for a potential answer.

Here’s an easy illustration:

The issue is that I ran a red light.
So why did it occur? I arrived at my appointment late.
Why was it the case? Well, I slept in.
Why did it occur, too? My phone’s alarm didn’t go off.
Why was it the case? I neglected to connect it to the charger.
And why is it taking place? There was no plug for it. It is my fault for forgetting to connect it in.

The potential fix is to set a recurrent alarm for 9 p.m. to remind me to plug in my phone.

This is the ideal tool for team members who are less experienced or who frequently ask you questions about issues. Ask them to think about and answer the five whys using the five whys template.

7. RAID Log

tools of critical thinking

RAID is short for

Write down any dangers that might have a negative effect on this.
List all linked assumptions under the heading “Assumptions.”
What are some of the difficulties that the project is currently facing or may face in the future?
What are the various dependencies?

The RAID Log is frequently utilised when you need to make several choices on an ongoing project.

This is a wonderful technique to make sure you’re gathering all the relevant information, including the assumptions, any challenges, and dependencies, whether you’ll be analysing your thoughts alone, with team members, or with customers. tools of critical thinking

8.  So-Whats: Consequences of Actions

tools of critical thinking
tools of critical thinking

The aforementioned tools are all intended to aid in problem identification. However, it’s equally crucial to consider the effects of your actions. tools of critical thinking

You’ll need to feel at ease comprehending both large thinking and tiny thinking as you develop as a leader. Big picture and little details can help you make decisions with confidence.

Understanding the effects of your actions and decisions is a key component of that. The 7 So-Whats tool is intended to help with that.
In the same way that you ask the same question again to elicit a response, the 7 So-Whats are comparable to the 5 Whys. Start with your suggestion or potential fix, and then follow it up by asking “So, what will that mean” seven times.

The first “So, what” may read, “We’ll need to have the right job description and salary package for them, and let the team know they’re coming on,” for instance, if you need to employ a new sales person.

 

After that, you go through the remaining “So, Whats” to explain the outcomes or repercussions of the action you’re considering.

 

9. Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

 

Many people become mired in analytical paralysis. I am sure I do. You acquire all the facts, yet you still feel stuck, whether you’re considering moving or hiring a new employee. tools of critical thinking

When it comes to professional progress or self-promotion, I find that it’s typically because we are confining our attention too much.

So, in order to assist you overcome that analytical paralysis, here are some questions. Think about it:

How would I choose if my goal was to create chances for either the circumstance or myself?
What advice would I give to my best friend? Or, what would my replacement do in this circumstance?
Your caution might be the consequence of immediate worries like shame, tools of critical thinking

 

Your caution might be the consequence of immediate worries that are unimportant in the long run, like shame. Can you set a time limit or deadline to decide on anything so you have some mental distance?
You should essentially ask yourself what is stopping you. Is it anxiety? Fear of being let down? or that you lack sufficient knowledge?

Maybe you believe you could learn more, but is there any way you could learn more in the time you have? If not, choose based on what you now have. tools of critical thinking

 

What effects would delaying your choice have on your stakeholders, your career, and how people see you?

 

This tool’s goal is to help you remove yourself from the circumstance.

 

9 Critical Thinking Tools For Better Decision-Making

 

The distinction between becoming a decent leader and a great one may be made by taking the time to consider your thought processes and employing tools like these.

Make smarter decisions for your business, organisation, and career with these nine critical thinking techniques, and do it with confidence. tools of critical thinking

Send us a message if you’d want tailored advice on how to apply critical thinking skills to your company or organisation. We would be delighted to work with you to develop a strategy specific to your requirements. tools of critical thinking

Key Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinkers have a number of essential traits that enable them to challenge both the validity of the information and their own assumptions. To improve your critical thinking abilities, concentrate on the following areas:

Curiosity

tools of critical thinking
tools of critical thinking

It’s essential to have the ability and willingness to consider unconventional strategies and innovative concepts. Can you generate believable possibilities, consider “what if” scenarios, and test your theories? If not, you can overlook the greatest solution to your problem since you have a tendency to dismiss ideas and solutions too quickly.

Keep up of current events to feed your interest. Always remain receptive to fresh information; if you allow yourself to “blinkered,” you’ll miss critical information. tools of critical thinking tools of critical thinking

 

Don’t stop there, though! Look for facts that contradict your claims or opposing viewpoints, and when anything is unclear, ask for clarification. You can then reevaluate your thoughts and come to a well-informed decision. More strategies for remaining open can be found in our article, Opening Closed Minds.

Logical Thinking

To generate realistic possibilities or outcomes, you must be adept in deductive reasoning and logic expansion.

It’s also crucial to prioritize reasoning over feeling. Control your emotions and be cautious in your judgments because while emotion can be inspiring, it can also cause you to act hastily and foolishly. Understanding when a conclusion is false and when it is “fact” Conclusions that “could be true” are predicated on assumptions and require additional testing. Check out our piece on logical fallacies.

To counteract cold logic, use imaginative problem solving. By leveraging bits of information you currently have, you can come up with new potential outcomes by thinking outside the box. tools of critical thinking

Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness
Our values and beliefs indirectly influence many of the choices we make in life. Cognitive biases are these influences, and because they are frequently unconscious, it can be challenging to recognize them in ourselves.

You can think about the opinions you hold and the decisions you make by developing self-awareness. Then, you’ll have the tools you need to examine your own assumptions and come to more informed judgments.

 

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