skill of critical thinking

Developing The Skill of Critical Thinking

One of our challenges in business is to find the balance between process and creative thinking. We live in an innovative and disruptive business world yet in many ways, our businesses and organisations rely on process and accepted practices. When confronted by a problem our norm is to run through our “scripts” on what needs to happen next. Our tried processes that follow a path to an expected outcome instead of developing the skill of critical thinking.

And understandably so. Process and systems create a uniform and consistent approach. The delivery to our client and our customers depends on having them. The combination of people and process is necessary for consistency of business performance.

[spp-tweet tweet=”While we want to build processes and systems, we also should encourage our team to think. Often this is a skill that becomes redundant as our team follow their well-worn patterns and “routine” their way through the day”]. Our struggle comes when they are faced with something outside of these patterns and the comfort that comes from process is strangled. They search for an outcome and the client often becomes a casualty.

Many employees lose the ability to think critically.  Even those charged with strategy are often just following safe pathways based on experiences, limiting the true potential of the organisation. The question should be asked.

Is this a problem?

Many would suggest it isn’t. The companies affected by disruption would, in hindsight, suggest otherwise. It is critical that business and organisations find a way to elevate critical thinking and maximise the potential that innovation brings. But it is a balancing act. You have to have processes and systems to deliver smooth operations, but empower the team to “think for themselves”. But not for everything. And that’s the balance.

I know there are companies that engage internal “disruption” departments, with a sole focus to disrupt the business from within, before the are impacted externally. These departments are charged with critical thinking and to challenge current methods of operational business and products being presented to the customer base. It’s far better to innovate internally, than be disrupted externally.

Other companies use a form of agile thinking where experienced executives in one discipline eg logistics, are tasked to solve problems in another, eg customer service. A good business head, provides the ability for these leaders to ask questions and then use the new fresher thinking to solve the problem.

These are just two opportunities available to companies. Step outside accepted practices and process and learn to practice the skill of critical thinking.

Photo by Jake Young on Unsplash

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