Develop a Critical Thinking Workforce – Jumpstart Innovation

Globalization and technology is causing an increase in the tempo of business. This creates an environment where the employees must deal with a rapid pace of multifaceted information. Critical thinking skill sets are a must for all of the leadership roles within the company and is a bonus if the rest of the organization possesses these skill sets. Each project team must have leaders who have strong critical thinking abilities or risks will become true, issues will never be resolved and opportunities will be lost.

If you do not address critical thinking within your organization you will allow the accountability of all major decisions to flow to the top. This practice will cause the senior executive team to spend too much of their time micromanaging the companies every step, and not focusing on strategic objectives. Status quo behavior will stunt the company’s growth engine. The longer the critical thinking issue is ignored the more dependent the organization is on getting resolution to all issues from the top. Growth suffers, strategic objectives suffer, risk management suffers, creativity and innovation suffers, and market presence and opportunities suffer.

Not all answers and decisions are black and white. There are gray areas that create additional risks to be managed. You may have heard the saying that “the best decision is a decision”. 

How does an individual who has the ability to use critical thinking solve problems?

  • Being inquisitive and observant: The individual raises important questions to allow them to gather data about the issue. They collect relevant information that may not be easily obtained unless they have the ability to view the issue as an abstract environment. They attack the problem from multiple angles.
  • Evaluate a solution: The individual evaluates the data and tests the solutions. They can easily think through risk scenarios and possible new issues based upon their ability to use critical thinking and past experiences. In business, leaders who possess the ability to critically think can go through this process in their minds and come to solutions in a timely manner. Leaders who must continuously assess the answer in a mathematical or systematic paper exercise tend to lack this critical thinking ability.
  • Continuous evaluation of the results: During the decision making process explained above these individuals continuously assess the solution against their assumptions and alternative thoughts about the problem. They will continuously monitor abstract effects of the solution implemented and will know how to adjust on the fly.

Critical thinking is absolutely vital to the success of any company. If employees learn to apply critical thinking processes the business will inherently manage risk, issues and opportunities. This will leave the senior executives to deal with the major risks that impact the business as a larger system, deal with growing the organization (human and financial capital), and focus on reaching the company’s vision through strategy execution.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts about critical thinking and the impacts that the TrepExec has to think through as they utilize entrepreneurial processes. 

Keith R. Szewczyk

Global High Tech Executive, GM, Entrepreneurial Leader – Strategic Vision, Process Improvement, P&L, PLM, Sales Growth