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Critical Thinking in the Workplace

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Critical Thinking is thinking that is reflective, open-minded yet purposeful and directed. During the early industrial revolution, employees were essentially considered machines. Employers neither wanted nor expected them to think.

Today in our constantly changing and evolving work places with the constant requirement to improve our products, services and prices, no organization can exist let alone succeed without the active participation of employees.

And our information age has provided those employees with enormous quantities of information. Current advertising by a large software company states that their product will help the ‘people ready’ company succeed. Supposedly they will do this by making information more readily available and easier to use. But there is one small problem with this whole scenario.

Are our employees effectively prepared to work in this environment? Are they equipped with the skills needed to separate the factual data from the misleading, misrepresented and wrong information? In our quest for more and faster information we may have missed the need to prepare our employees to sift through the information, to glean the factual, useful information from the information often intended to mislead.

We need to learn to automatically assess the statements in the context of critical thinking as well as the technical and systemic contexts. We must strive to teach our employees and ourselves to become more conscious of how we think and how others think. We all must try to think better. We can learn to:

  • consider language precision
  • examine hidden assumptions
  • identify effective inferential reasoning
  • learn to evaluate claims and reasons

We can learn to effectively evaluate information through the use of ‘Critical Thinking Standards’. Critical Thinking Standards are required whenever we are interested in checking the quality or validity of reasoning about a problem, question, issue or situation.

We must become adept at the use of these standards.

Learn more about the elements we’d include in these standards and more about how critical thinking can improve organizational effectiveness in our Process Audit Toolkit.