No matter what walk of life you come from, what industry you’re interested in pursuing, or how much experience you’ve already garnered, because we’ve all seen firsthand the importance of critical thinking skills. Too many business leaders are simply not reasoning through pressing issues, taking the time to evaluate a topic from all sides.

Leaders often jump to the first conclusion, whatever the evidence. In fact, lacking such skills can truly make or break a person’s career, as the consequences of one’s inability to process and analyze information effectively can be massive.

Critical thinking is the act of analyzing facts to understand a problem or topic thoroughly. The process typically includes steps such as collecting information and data, asking thoughtful questions and analyzing possible solutions. For example, if you’re working in human resources and need to resolve a conflict between two employees, you will use critical thinking to understand the nature of the conflict and what action should be taken to resolve the situation.

The good news is that critical thinking is a learned skill that allows you to make logical and informed decisions to the best of your ability.

Focusing on these can put you on the path to becoming an exceptional critical thinker.

1. Identify a problem or issue.

2. Create inferences on why the problem exists and how we can solve it.

3. Collect information or data on the issue through research.

4. Organize, sort data and findings.

5. Develop and execute solutions.

6. Analyze which solutions worked or didn’t.

7. Identify ways to improve the solution

Critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating information. But a person with good memory and who knows a lot of facts is not necessarily good at this. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself.

Critical Thinking can be broken down into 8 different categories to include:

  1. Reflection
  2. Analysis
  3. Acquisition of Information
  4. Creativity
  5. Structuring arguments
  6. Decision making
  7. Commitment
  8. Debate

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