Critical Thinking - let's do this!

photo credit - Trish Nicklin photography

photo credit - Trish Nicklin photography

Critical thinking at some point got lost, probably in 1980's during the boom of "Corporate lifestyle" becoming a defined "thing' and definitely in the 1990's and 2000's rush for results over process. It never really recovered from there.

Until now.

I certainly never took a class in critical thinking or even thought about what is was until I had to provide Critical Analysis in University, a duty I undertook with my first foray into academic life, and then promptly disposed of under a near avalanche of corporate training programs and well meaning management telling me about the use of "models" instead.

In fact now I think about it (pun intended) it was pretty much replaced by a heap of workplace models easily pulled from a shelf (textbook, manual) and forced over the employee masses much like a well meaning parent might squeeze a knitted hat onto a child's head to please a visiting relative who had spent hours creating the garment. In the end, whilst the head (model) might be warm (relatable) in parts, it also doesn't fit (un-relatable) in others, is probably itchy (useless) and ultimately after the obligatory five minutes will never be worn again. What a waste.

Despite the world progressing at speeds we have never faced before (thankyou technology); we find people and employees now need slowing down (mindfullness) to cope.

Looking back at Critical Thinking and applying it when we are looking at decision making in the first place suddenly ( or not so to those who are natural critical thinkers) makes a whole lot more sense with all this in mind.

Spend a bit more time on the front end of a thought and the result is a nicer rear end !

So we know why it is a good idea, but what is it and is there a process to follow to do it?

Like everything else there are loads of theories, for what it is worth I have diluted the concept into the following steps, easily adaptable for all.

1) It. It all starts with a thought, concept, idea or a desired outcome. Write it into a sentence or a paragraph. Gather your colleagues ( or if you are alone -your wits) to discuss.

2) Be self aware - know your natural + find your unnatural bias. Be alert to them. Kick them out the door. Open your mind. 

3) Prism review - every angle people. Look at it from every angle, inside out, upside down, backwards etc Objectivity is the aim. 

4) Isolate - Slice away ALL your wants, desires and needs. Remove them from the process. If it scares you to say it, then you are on the right track. Be courageous. 

5) Machine - become the engineer. Know every part, how it is tooled, what it is for, where it connects. TAKE IT APART. Put it back together as something else.Do this many times. What do you see? How can it change? What are the perceptions of it under different lights? Who is impacted by each version? How are they affected? What does it feel like in this configuration? Does it still work?

6) Release Values. Yes that is right, build a nice strong fence and take Trust, Integrity, Respect, Honesty and all their friends off leash. Just for a bit. See what they do.

7) Space. By now you have a mind map which looks like anything from a Tarantino film to a Monet Garden. Record it and leave it for at least a day if not two.

8) Re-write it.

If you are interested in learning HOW to do the above, contact me -