Prior to the pandemic, we got used to automating decisions and prescribing solutions based on previous experiences, and this worked to our advantage. But in this “new normal,” past assumptions and ways of doing things no longer work as effectively. We all need to rethink and adjust the process of critical thinking and deliberate decision making.
We asked Luigi Mapa, our resource person on leadership and organizational development, for his thoughts on the changes we would need to apply to ensure our decisions remain relevant in this new reality we all face. Here are his insights:
We need to reengage the part of our brains that allows us to pay attention to detail, and evaluate situations objectively. When our neocortex is trained and focused, it equips us to analyze and act with discretion as we move to generate solutions and make decisions in this new environment.
At the organizational level, companies need to make tough decisions about fund optimization and product prioritization. In other words, how to manage costs while thinking strategically on which revenue streams to focus. Critical thinking and decision making tools will help organizations make these tough choices with less risk through better analysis.
At the individual level, team members need to assess how their work needs could adapt in this new environment, and make effective risk/return decisions. This is achieved by careful analysis of the situation, and by using a structured decision making process to arrive at the best possible recommendation to their boss.
Critical thinking enables us to challenge the biases and patterns of thought formed by our past experiences. These experiences may no longer be relevant in our present economy.
For example, a person may have a bias against online interfacing, preferring instead only face to face communication. Or a manager might be resistant to decentralizing decision making. This new environment requires us to challenge these behavioral and cognitive patterns and adapt new ways of thinking and doing. It also allows us to temper emotions triggered by the circumstances we face. Achieving this requires both behavioral and technical competencies. In other words, we need to learn a balance of tools, techniques, frameworks and proper mindsets in order to develop the behavioral and technical aspects of critical thinking and decision making.For example, we have to ask if we are reacting or deciding due to feelings of panic and anxiety brought on by nonstop bad news. We have to take a moment, unplug from our newsfeed temporarily, and then start the process.
In these volatile and uncertain times, it’s essential that we critique our actions and decisions with more clarity and objectivity. Remember, the root word in critical is ‘critic.’ Critical times require critical thinking and deliberate decision making. Consider second opinions, or consensus building. Open yourself to other points of view from team members. These extra steps could ensure we are closer to an ideal solution.
Critical thinking was considered as one of the most essential skill of the future. That future is now.