A generation ago, a typical complaint about errant employees was a lack of common sense—“not as common,” the bosses would say.
But with the rise of instantly available information (“just Google it”) the challenge has become how to sift through it all, and discerning what is useful or not. Hence the need for critical thinking as a way to assess and evaluate what factors are relevant in finding solutions to any problem.
Following are three thoughts on critical thinking, that all employees should take heed.
Common sense is useful, if we’re lucky we grow up with parents and social environments that teach us common sense. Things like being respectful, careful, kind, frugal, polite, and a long list of other traits. Common sense is about using good judgment regarding practical matters. Critical thinking is an elevated form of common sense; it’s ‘uncommon’ because it takes practice and discipline to practice it. Critical thinking is using objective analysis and evaluation of an issue (or problem) in order to form good judgment. Common sense is knowing we should do our best in our jobs, critical thinking is analyzing which kind of job is best suited for us.
2. Critical thinking is about how (not what) to think
Critical thinking teaches you how to think but it doesn’t teach you what to think. Learning how to think more critically is like learning how to play the keys on a piano, there’s a definite science to it. But we can’t mistake learning critical thinking as being able to compose symphonies and raising to the level of Beethoven, that’s the ‘talent’ or the ‘art’ side of it.
3. Critical thinking is essential for innovation
For companies today, innovation is what matters most. If your products or services aren’t improving or innovating; you’ll be left behind by your competitors in time. Critical thinking keeps supervisors and employees engaged in seeking ways to improve and innovate. Ideas and innovations come from companies with a culture that allows employees to think critically and build the products and services of the future.
Above inputs are courtesy of Ryan Buenafe, our resource person for the upcoming workshop, “Critical Thinking in the Workplace,” on March 6 to 7.