Critical Thinking Training for Business

If you are a Business, you will find this training program very relevant for all those in Managerial and supervisory positions, Sales, customer facing positions, Business analysts and anyone else who has to make decisions or formulate plans (2) You can choose from three different modules with varying depth of coverage and exercises (3) Understanding the patterns of reasoning and nuances of communication dramatically improves comprehension of the dynamics in fluid situations. 

 

When more than 400 senior HR professionals were asked in a survey to name the most important skill their employees will need in the next five years, critical thinking ranked the highest – surpassing innovation or the application of information technology. 1Such a response reflects how the nature of work – and the skills required – have been changing dramatically.

With globalization and the increased speed of business, employees at every level are facing an increasingly complex flow of information. Work settings are changing rapidly, and employees are moving into new roles, often with limited direction. Employees can no longer rely on others to make key decisions. They often must make them on their own, and quickly. And the decisions have to be good ones. If they fall short, there may be no time to recover.

Good decisions require focusing on the most relevant information, asking the right questions, and separating reliable facts from false assumptions – all elements of critical thinking. And yet too few employees possess these essential skills. A survey of HR professionals conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and The Conference Board found that a full 70 percent of employees with a high school education were deficient in critical thinking skills. Even among employees with a four-year college education, 9 percent were deficient in critical thinking skills, 63 percent had adequate skills, and only 28 percent were rated excellent critical thinkers.

  SHRM

Critical Thinking has two elements to understand the relevance of its application to Business:

Reasoning patterns

Knowledge of Patterns of reasoning, evaluation of evidence, logical fallacies and determining credibility of sources.

Framework 

Framework of Critical Thinking. The framework explicitly identifies the elements of thought, the thinking processes a Critical Thinker must go through, and evaluating the consequences/implications of decisions taken / Conclusions arrived at
    
Business Management Graduates would have used a framework for Business Case analysis. The Critical Thinking frameworks are similar, and it would not be wrong to label the Case Study frameworks as Critical Thinking frameworks - albeit restricted to the domain of business
    
Let's take a look at Paul Elder's Framework

paul elder

 

The Framework is largely self-explanatory. It is quite reasonable to assume that anyone can follow this framework and start thinking critically. And with practice in applying this framework to many problems over a period of time, He/She should become a skilled Critical Thinker.   

Is knowledge of the Framework sufficient to make a good Critical Thinkier ?

 No - it's not enough to pick up a framework and apply it to any problem you are solving. The implicit assumption of any framework is that 'We are experts  in the basic structure and patterns of reasoning'.

But very few of us have formal knowledge or been trained in the patterns of reasoning, and its pitfalls. The formal study of the patterns of reasoning is an integral part of any text on Critical Thinking. As a matter of fact, it forms the bulk of any text on Critical Thinking..

Thus an understanding and practice of Critical Thinking requires:

  • A study of the patterns of reasoning and rhetoric
  • Application of a Critical Thinking framework to the subject under evaluation

What are the benefits of Critical Thinking in a business environment

Better decision making and problem solving

Critical Thinkers evaluate all information critically for credibility, relevance and accuracy. The framework when applied provides different perspectives of the issue. This process makes it easy to develop hypotheses of causes, or solutions that solve the problem. Since the framework forces you to also evaluate the consequences of any conclusion or decision, you can be sure that any decision arrived at has been:

  • Based on premises that are true
  •  Assumptions are identified and documented
  •  Problems/issues arising out of any course of action are proactively anticipated and solutions recommended/put in place

If entire teams are trained in Critical Thinking, communication becomes much clearer, teams become more productive as everyone in the team is Thinking critically and finally more harmonious work environment as every team member will be working towards the same standards as required by Critical thinking. Is good decision making important for your business?

Better Oral Communication Skills

Critical Thinking forces one to be clear in communication. As a matter of fact the subject dwells on distinguishing between clear and vague thinking, and how to make one's communication clear.

Apart from clear and unambiguous language, a Critical Thinker analyzes the issue from different perspectives. As a result, he in advance is able to anticipate other possible positions and interpretations of a position, This knowledge helps him ensure that there is no ambiguity in his communication and proactively precludes any misinterpretation of his position/communication.

This means clear and cogent oral communication within the organization and with customers and other stakeholders. Is clear communication important for your business?

Better Written Communication

We write what we think. Our writing follows the patterns of our thinking. Critical Thinking forces us to be logical in our approach, and present our arguments in a structured manner. This clear and forceful thinking is automatically reflected in the writing of a Critical Thinker.

   
    

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