Have you ever solved one problem only to realize you created a bigger one? Have you ever thought you solved the problem but then discovered you only cured a symptom and didn’t fix the root cause? The reason these things happen is that you’re not thinking critically. Critical thinking is both a mindset and the application of some really simple tools.
What exactly is critical thinking? As some of you may suppose, it has nothing to do with the criticism. Instead, it is the ability to think reflectively and independently in order to make thoughtful decisions. By focusing on root-cause issues, critical thinking helps us avoid future problems that can result from your actions.
How important is critical thinking? So many times when people ask us, “Can you solve this problem?” we rush off and start solving it without stopping to think before we do. We are facing new demands that require extensive amounts of information before we can make a decision. Usually, there are multiple departments involved in all of your problem-solving efforts, and each department is contributing its own input. As part of your problem-solving process, there are going to be multiple stakeholders involved.
This increases the complexity of trying to get to an answer. When you do ultimately come up with a recommendation, those big decisions will involve numerous trade-offs. Not everyone is going to be happy with what you recommend. There are going to be long lag times in acquiring the required data to make your decision, and when you finally do make the call, there’s going to be high scrutiny over whether you were right or wrong. And a bad call can have both business as well as personal and professional implications.
Add to this unforeseen bottlenecks in getting the process done of getting to that answer, multiply it by the number of problems you’re trying to solve every single day, and then divide by the limited amount of time you have to get to an answer. The importance of stopping and thinking critically before you rush off and undertake all these very comprehensive efforts is very high.
That critical thinking process is what’s going to differentiate you and the solutions you develop versus rushing off without any thought at all.
Author: Kasia Bialek