Tag: Critical Thinking

Help Your Team Solve Problems Using Critical Thinking

Help your team solve problems using critical thinking.

A major function of critical thinking is it gives your team the ability to solve problems. Your team is presented daily with a host of decisions and problems to solve. In this blog, we will learn some steps your team can use for problem solving. Some psychologists define a problem as a gap or barrier between where the team is and where they wish to be.  In other words, a problem is the space between point A and B. Problems then essentially consist of the initial state and a goal state. All possible solution paths leading to the goal state are located in the problem space. Some researchers say that problem solving has three primary stages:

  1. Preparation or familiarization
  2. Production
  3. Judgment and evaluation

Your Team Must Identify Inconsistencies

Much of critical thinking is about how to connect the two points in a problem. However, sometimes critical thinkers are presented with inconsistencies or what scientists call cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance can appear through a discrepancy between attitude and beliefs. Inconsistencies can also be called variances or dissimilarities. It is a natural tendency to want to eliminate inconsistencies when solving a problem. The best way your team can identify inconsistencies is by using their logic and objectivity to see variances. Identifying inconsistencies would fall under the first stage of problem solving in which the team is familiarizing themselves with the subject.

Encourage Your Team to Trust Their Instincts

“Trust your instincts” falls under the second stage of problem solving, and the team should now start to see solution paths. Instincts are defined as a natural intuitive power. Intuition or instincts are key pieces in problem solving. When coupled with trial and error, informed guesses, and brainstorming, intuition and instincts can lead to a highly creative process. Many scientific discoveries and inventions were made because the innovator followed their instincts. Think of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, for instance.

Get Your Team to Ask Why

Asking the right question is important in logical thinking. Asking why is equally important in problem solving. It is not sufficient to be simply presented with the information or data. Your team must always be willing to dig deeper and explore various possibilities. Asking why can fall under any of the three stages of problem solving.

Your Team Needs to Evaluate the Solutions

Once a possible solution has been derived, your team may feel they can proceed with the solution. However, they should not overlook the all-important step of evaluating all possible solutions. Sometimes, one problem has more than one solution and taking the time to evaluate the efficacy of each alternative is a critical thinking skill. Evaluation is also called judgment, and this is the third stage of problem solving. Your team should evaluate each alternative and judge which one is the best. The following steps are an effective evaluation technique:

  1. Make a T-chart to weigh the pros and cons of each possible solution
  2. Develop criteria (or requirements) and assign weights to each criteria
  3. Prioritize the criteria
  4. Rate the proposed solutions using the criteria

Conclusion

To solve problems using critical thinking, your team has to resist the tendency to eliminate inconsistencies. They should also trust their instincts which together with trial and error, informed guesses, and brainstorming and intuition, can lead to a highly creative problem solving process.  Another part of problem solving is asking why, which will help your team to dig deeper and explore various possibilities. Once the possible solutions have been derived, all of the solutions must be evaluated to select the most appropriate one.

TBAE has developed a outcome based problem solving team building event which focuses on discovering and developing your team’s problem solving skills. Click here to find out more about the Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activity.

 

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Changing Your Team’s Perspective

Changing Your Team’s Perspective

The interesting thing about perspective is that everyone has one. One aspect of open-mindedness is that it makes your team receptive to other viewpoints. The concept of changing your team’s perspective includes:

  • Limitations of Your Team’s Point of View
  • Considering Others Viewpoint
  • Influences on Bias
  • What to With New Information

Limitations of Your Team’s Point of View

An important component of critical thinking is having an open mind. This component as well as bias, relates to the team’s point of view. The less open-minded and more biased a team is, the more limited their point of view. The challenge of critical thinking is avoiding the limitations of your point of view and not be constrained by cognitive or mental blinders.

Related: Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Considering Others Viewpoint

One reason we find it so difficult to consider another’s viewpoint is that we are over-concerned with our own opinions and views. A challenge for the team is to step down from the “mountain of self”, and climb up the “mountain of the other”. Considering others viewpoint is easier when your team understands the benefits. For instance, it helps them be more empathetic, it helps them to see the bigger picture and it also promotes objectivity.

Influences on Bias

Bias influences your team’s conclusions in the logic process. What are some influences on bias? The first thing that can influence bias is the way a team member interprets information he or she is receiving. The other influence on bias is the way the presenter or speaker frame questions and information. For instance, researchers have found that hypothetical questions influence behavior and promote bias. The key to not being influenced by hypothetical information is to remember that it is just that and not factual information.

When New Information Arrives

When your team receives new information, how should they organize it? Probably the most common way of handling new information is through an organization schema. Schemas indicate which role new information plays. It compartmentalizes information into a familiar format, which makes it easier for the team to use.

Conclusion

Changing your team’s perspective involves getting your team to be more receptive to other viewpoints. You want your team to avoid the limitations of their point of view and be more open-minded. Your team will be more likely to consider the viewpoint of others when they understand that it makes them more empathetic, it helps them see the bigger picture and promotes objectivity. You also want to change your team’s perspective so that their bias do not influence their conclusions in the logic process.

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4 Ways Your Team Benefits From Critical Thinking

4 Ways Your Team Benefits From Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is important. It helps your team make better decisions and to rationally apply information. While there are many benefits of critical thinking, the four we are going to look at are:

  • Being more persuasive
  • Better communication
  • Better problem solving
  • Increased emotional intelligence

Related: Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Being More Persuasive

Persuasiveness is the characteristic of being able to influence others. We normally think of salespersons and politicians when we hear the word persuasiveness. However, all managers or professionals use persuasiveness on a daily basis. Anytime, we want to have others accept our ideas, we do so through the power of persuasion. How will critical thinking make your team members more persuasive? It is because critical thinking is a deliberate or thoughtful process, and the more deliberate they are, the better they will be in expressing their assumptions or ideas and persuading others.

Better Communication

Critical thinking improves communication for some of the same reasons that it improves persuasiveness. Many of the same factors used to improve persuasiveness, will also make the team members better communicators in general. For instance, the use of analogies and metaphors are a great persuasion and general communication technique. In addition to helping the team using language more persuasively; critical thinking also helps them use language with more clarity.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Better Problem Solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are closely related and are almost intertwined. Sometimes we say that to solve logic problems we must use our critical thinking skills. In fact, logic, critical thinking, and problem solving, use some of the same cognitive processes. Critical thinkers use their problem solving skills and not just their intuition to make decisions or draw conclusions.

Related: Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Increased Emotional Intelligence

What is emotional intelligence and how does critical thinking help your team members increase their emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is identified as the ability to assess and control the emotions of oneself, others, and even groups. Emotional intelligence is being “heart smart” as opposed to “book smart.” Critical thinking helps increase emotional intelligence because one of the characteristics of a critical thinker is self-awareness. Also, critical thinkers know how and when to use their emotions, such as empathy, in making decisions. The more a team member uses his or her critical thinking skills the better adept they should become at identifying, understanding, and managing their emotions. Emotional intelligence in general consists of four abilities:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

Conclusion

Critical thinking will help your team be more persuasive because it is a deliberate process, and the more deliberate they are in their thinking, the better your team will be at expressing their ideas and persuading others. Many of the factors in critical thinking that will make your team members more persuasive will also make them better communicators as it will help them use language with more clarity. Critical thinking is intertwined with problem solving as it uses the same cognitive processes. Because self-awareness is one of the characteristics of critical thinkers, critical thinking will also lead to an increase in the emotional intelligence of your team members.

 

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Developing Your Team’s Critical Thinking Capabilities

Developing Your Team’s Critical Thinking Capabilities

In this blog post, we will look at characteristics that will help your team improve their critical thinking capabilities. We will be looking at the following four characteristics:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Objectivity
  • Using emotions
  • Being self-aware

Related: Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Seeing the Big Picture

One of the main functions of thinking is to make connections. The team’s  ideas gain significance when they can relate or connect them to other ideas. They will start to gain insight when we see the similarities between ideas. The way they structure their ideas can be based on how they connect in one of two ways: causal or conceptual relationships. Since many problems arise due to causal changes, we will focus on this aspect. Steps in discovering causal relations include:

  • Laying out the account
  • Determining a hierarchy
  • Interpreting convergences and divergences
    • Convergences are ideas/things that reinforce, supplement, or complement events
    • Divergences are points that do not reinforce events

Objectivity

Objectivity is defined as “intentness on objects external to the mind.” In critical thinking, you want your team to have a keen sense of objectivity. This is a heuristic or a rule / strategy for problem solving. Objectivity helps your team to engage more thoughtfully and deliberately in the critical thinking process. However, the team members should not completely exclude their emotions or subjective feelings in the decision making or problem solving process. The most important thing to remember is that evaluating information objectively helps the team to be more deliberate or thorough.

Using Their Emotions

As mentioned in the previous section, emotions should not be ignored altogether when thinking critically. Emotions play a crucial role in the thinking process. For instance, professionals need empathy when working with others, regardless of their occupation in order to vicariously experience what others feel, believe, or wish. The issue with emotions and decision making is to not allow emotions to cloud the team’s judgment.

Being Self-Aware

Self-awareness is yet another characteristic of the critical thinking. This characteristic relates to the team acutely being aware of their feelings, opinions, and assumptions. Moreover, it is a starting point for thinking critically. Our assumptions are how the first impressions and strongest emotions are filtered when we evaluate information.

Conclusion

There are many benefits in having your team develop their critical thinking skills. If you want your team to develop their critical thinking abilities, they must develop the ability to see the big picture when they need to make decisions. Encourage them to make connections between ideas so that they can gain insight when they see the similarities between ideas. A keen sense of objectivity is also vital in critical thinking. Although emotions can cloud your team’s judgement they should not be ignored altogether. Finally, your team needs to be aware of their feelings, opinions, and assumptions, as being self-aware is the starting point for critical thinking.

 

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Develop Non-Linear Thinking in Your Team

Develop Non-Linear Thinking in Your Team

The usual way to approach problems that your team may face is in a step-by-step fashion. This is called linear or vertical thinking. However, often we tend to not line up the premises in a normal step-by-step fashion. When your team needs to  approach a problem in a different order, they are using non-linear thinking. Sometimes, non-linear thinking is also called lateral thinking.

Related: Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Encourage Your Team to Step Out of Their Comfort Zone

One of the first steps in developing non-linear thinking in your team is to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. Basically, this concept involves your team seeing information or circumstances from a different perspective. A zone is defined as an area set apart in some way. In critical thinking and problem-solving, your team sometimes have to get out of the areas or zones that make them comfortable and stretch their thinking.

Remind Your Team Not to Jump to Conclusions

An important step in problem solving is for your team to take the time to acquire the necessary information. Often, teams tend to jump to conclusions before they have all of the facts. How can your team use their understanding of logic to gather all the necessary facts? Remember, the premises are the facts or statements that help us come to conclusions.

Related: Changing Your Team’s Perspective

Encourage Your Team to Expect and Initiate Change

“Be the change you wish to see,” is a common slogan on bumper stickers. With so many events happening on an international and national level each day, change is simply a standard course in businesses. We can always expect changes in organizations. Nothing stays the same, and we sometimes are in the position where we the ones initiating the change.

Your Team Must Be Ready to Adapt

The question in today’s culture is not will change occur in an organization, but how well are teams at adapting to change. Team members protect themselves from becoming obsolete by changing. Adaptation is a survival skill of nature. The species which survive in an environment are those that are capable of adapting well.

Conclusion

There are times that linear thinking is simply not sufficient to solve the problem that is facing your team. This is where non-linear thinking comes into play. For your team to be effective in non-linear thinking they will need to step out of their comfort zones and guard against jumping to conclusions. Your team needs to expect and initiate change, always being ready to adapt, if they are going to be effective in non-linear thinking.

If you want to develop non-linear thinking in your team, our problem solving outcome based team building activities are designed to develop non-linear thinking and other problem solving skills.

 

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Characteristics of Leaders that are Critical Thinkers

Characteristics of Leaders that are Critical Thinkers

There are many benefits to critical thinking, but what are some characteristics of leaders that are critical thinkers? Do they have innate abilities that make them better at thinking critically? In this article we will examine eight characteristics of critical thinkers.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Active Listeners

We have all heard it before the best communicators are active listeners. What does it mean to practice active listening? Active listening means the listener is completely engaged in what the speaker is communicating and judging what is being said. The listener is not formulating his rebuttal or responses to the speaker, or even worse thinking about something else unrelated.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Curiosity

Curiosity is yet another skill in developing critical thinking. Some scholars believe that Socrates ultimate goal was not so much to advocate his methods, but to advocate self-improvement and to spark curiosity. The main goal of a teacher is to spark curiosity and engage their students. There are many methods to engage curiosity but they all essentially involve raising a question. For instance, Einstein prompted his curiosity by asking questions about how matter and energy functioned.

Self-disciplined

Reasoning and rationale are often associated with self-discipline. Critical thinking is a self-disciplined and self-guided action. Critical thinking requires the individual to use their own reasoning skills and have the ability to evaluate and reflect. One important thing to consider is that people who are critical thinkers commonly are also more empathetic and aware of their world. They show a commitment to self-development and strive to make their environment a better place.

Humility

Humility is defined as the “quality of being modest of opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.” Humility is the opposite of arrogance. Humility relates having an open mind. To be receptive to new information or opinions, the critical thinker would have to be modest of their own opinion. Being humble allows you to accept and see information in a way that is not filtered through your ego.

Ability to See the Big Picture

One of the main functions of thinking is to make connections. Our own ideas gain significance when we can relate or connect them to other ideas. We start to gain insight when we see the similarities between ideas. The way we structure our ideas can be based on how they connect in one of two ways: causal or conceptual relationships. Since many problems arise due to causal changes, we will focus on this aspect.

Objectivity

Objectivity is defined as “intentness on objects external to the mind.” In critical thinking, we want have a keen sense of objectivity. This is a heuristic or rule/strategy for problem solving. Objectivity helps us to engage more thoughtfully and deliberately in the critical thinking process. However, we should not completely exclude our emotion or subjective feelings in the decision making or problem solving process. The most important thing to remember is that evaluating information objectively helps us to be more deliberate or thorough.

Using Emotions

As mentioned in the previous section, emotions should not be ignored altogether when thinking critically. Emotions play a crucial role in the thinking process. For instance, professionals need empathy when working with others regardless of their occupation in order to vicariously experience what others feel, believe, or wish. The issue with emotions and decision making is to not allow emotions to cloud your judgment.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is yet another characteristic of the critical thinker. This characteristic relates to acutely being aware of one’s feelings, opinions, and assumptions. Moreover, it is a starting point for thinking critically. Our assumptions are how the first impressions and strongest emotions are filtered when we evaluate information.

 

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