Fostering critical thinking at work

Translate this page from English Print Page Change Text Size: T T T Professional Development Model - Colleges and Universities that Foster Critical Thinking by Linda Elder Critical thinking, deeply understood, provides a rich set of concepts that enable us to think our way through any subject or discipline, through any problem or issue.

Fostering critical thinking at work

While any of these culture types can evolve and encourage higher levels of creativity, they also can establish a highly dysfunctional culture incapable of sustained creativity and innovation. From the start of the Six Sigma revolution through the financial crisis and up to today, Fostering critical thinking at work large number of businesses rely on structure and formal control to minimize cost and risk.

As a result, most leaders believe good leadership is all about execution. When the company is underperforming, they push harder, require more, and place blame on having the wrong people. The harder they push, the higher the turnover including top performers and the more dysfunctional they become.

In business today, success comes when leaders create an open, collaborative climate that encourages innovation and risk taking.

Fostering critical thinking at work

A climate that encourages curiosity and rewards creativity. To create this climate, leaders must: Create a safe environment for questions: Four-year-olds ask questions a day.

Leaders must allow time for exploration and questions. They also must be present physically and intellectually and curious during these sessions. Encourage and reward risk taking: This is exceptionally hard for most businesses.

Since organizations with high levels of employee engagement outperform other businesses by percent, upside for the business is huge! Some of this behavior carries over from the way they were managed, but when working with leaders, I see something very different.

There are large numbers who hide behind process because they are poor leaders. They push execution and manage to pipeline and sales call numbers.

A few months ago, I was meeting with a group of European senior business leaders for a technology company and this exact scenario transpired.

Fostering critical thinking at work

Several of the leaders kept saying they could not be successful because their technology was inferior, their price was too high, and unless corporate gave them better unique differentiators, they would keep losing.

Talk about passing the buck! If they were even remotely curious, they would know that products and price only capture loyalty from B2B customers 19 percent and 9 percent respectively CEB Challenger Loyalty Study. Even after they became aware of this fact, they still wanted to focus on product and price versus figuring out being curious how to differentiate and win by engaging customers more effectively.

Cultivating Curiosity Leaders, like their teams, must become more curious or risk becoming irrelevant. In fact, if they are going to create a corporate climate of curiosity, it is a must for them. Mostly because they have to work at it.

Curiosity is a developed skill and one that has to be nourished constantly. This takes time and effort, and unfortunately most leaders want to rely on what has put them in their jobs versus what is going to keep them relevant and in their jobs. In business today, it is not about what you know but how fast you learn.

Look at any business that is stalled or underperforming and you will see a lack of curiosity. The organization becomes self-limiting because leaders are the blockade that prevents new ideas and new thinking from driving creativity and innovation. But it starts much earlier—when curiosity is encouraged and nurtured—because without curiosity, creativity will never follow.For example, in DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast , fostering creativity and innovation was rated as the third most critical skill for the near future by more than 12, leaders from around the world.

The data showed a significant surge in the importance of creativity leading up to this forecast—with it playing an even larger role through The oldest, and still the most powerful, teaching tactic for fostering critical thinking is Socratic teaching.

In Socratic teaching we focus on giving students questions, not answers. We model an inquiring, probing mind by continually probing into the subject with questions. Foster a learning organization: Whether it’s Senge or Wheatley or Argyris that inspire your view of it, the culture and skills that embrace critical thinking can transform what an organization is capable of achieving.

Put it on the road map. The kids trained in critical thinking also did a better job solving everyday problems (Zohar et al ).

Teaching critical thinking: An evidence-based guide

Tips for teaching critical thinking: What should parents and teachers do? The short answer is make the principles of rational and scientific thinking explicit. Philip Abrami and colleagues analyzed studies about teaching critical thinking. The Teaching Exchange: Fostering Critical Thinking This article was originally published in the Fall issue of the CFT’s newsletter, Teaching Forum.

The Teaching Exchange is a forum for teachers at Vanderbilt to share their pedagogical strategies, experiments, and discoveries. Critical thinking is an important skill for business success, but many employees, and even leaders, lack it.

Here's how to get better at it.

Socratic Teaching