Critical thinking is the process of rationally analyzing and attempting to solve a problem accurately and efficiently without relying on assumptions or guesses. For students, critical thinking is an important part of the research and learning processes. Business leaders rely on critical thinking to help them solve day-to-day problems, along with major organizational issues, at minimal cost and as quickly as possible.
Assess and Restate the Problem
One of the central strategies to critical thinking and problem solving is developing as complete an understanding as possible of the problem. This means restating the problem in a number of different ways to learn about its dimensions, related problems, and where to look for information about the problem and possible solutions. Assessing a problem using critical thinking may reveal that it’s not a problem at all, or that it’s impossible to solve given present circumstances, which allows a business leader to focus on reducing its harmful effects instead of searching for a complete solution.
While critical thinking focuses on facts and evidence to solve problems, this doesn’t mean that it excludes creative thought and imagination. Instead, critical thinking relies on problem solvers to consider diverse sets of possible solutions before making decisions and acting on them. A creative problem-solving strategy may require collaborating with others to get new input or hear ideas that you wouldn’t think of alone. It may also require you to be patient while your ideas develop and evolve.
Questioning assumptions is an important strategy to employ at each step of the critical thinking process. Just because solutions were effective in the past doesn’t mean they’ll be among the best possible solutions now. Use your own research instead of relying on information from unreliable sources. Use multiple data points or case studies to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information you collect. Even if questioning an assumption doesn’t cause you to reject it, it may still bring you closer to a complete understanding of the best solutions by allowing you to examine the problem from another point of view.
The critical-thinking process shouldn’t end once you select a solution to your problem and implement it. Instead, thorough problem solving extends the critical thinking process to include a strategic followup that allows you to evaluate the outcome. You can compare this to your predicted consequences of implementing your solution, using the information to identify weaknesses in your critical-thinking process or search for even better solutions.
– Ilasri Godha