Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Everything you do in your career will be based around critical thinking skills, both in the workplace and your personal life. Every day you’re faced with problems from the minute you rise until the moment you go to sleep. Opportunities and challenges exist so how you deal with them can make a big impact on your career and your life.
What is critical thinking? Critical thinking is an analytical process used to solve problems whether at home or in the workplace. In order to understand the importance of critical thinking, it is necessary to understand the elements involved. Problem solving and analytical thinking are all components of the critical thinking process. As a professional, you need to be able to thoroughly develop these skills successfully within your decision-making process.
The first step in the process is to identify the problem. Note, the first step is not to develop the solution. It’s important to know what you’re working with before you figure out how to solve it. Once you have identified the problem, ask yourself a series of questions:
- Who is the problem “owner”? Is it your problem or does it belong to someone else?
- Why is this considered to be a problem?
- What caused the problem to occur?
Answering these questions will lay the foundation for research and problem resolution. Evidence is gathered through research, observation, interpretation and evaluation. In fact, the more time you spend identifying and analyzing the problem, the easier it will be to determine a solution. Critical thinking requires logically thinking through each step of the problem process, from identification to completion.
With any problem, there can be many resolutions evoking different outcomes. Each option must be weighed to determine feasibility. While there may be many resolutions to choose from, the solution is the best possible option to resolve the situation.
The critical thought process does not stop at simply resolving the issue, however. In many cases it involves implementation as well. Determining the action, planning each step, developing a timeline are all integral pieces of the puzzle. Resource consideration and allocation should also be included in the process.
So what skills and abilities are required for successful critical thinking? The ability to focus on an issue, dissect variables, analyze arguments, observe, seek clarification and make decisions are just some of the skills needed. There are also various soft skills required. These include honesty; integrity and the ability to value the input of others are also important skills to have.