This essay discusses the value and importance of critical thinking in accordance to our decision-making practices.
Critical thinking is a term that is often used incorrectly. Sometimes professionals make a decision or change and give the credit to critical thinking. Many times managers speak of critical thinking when he or she probably could not properly define the team. Thinking about an issue or problem for a couple of minutes and producing a resolution is not necessarily critical thinking. Critical thinking is important and beneficial in the decision making process.
Critical thinking is defined by Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary as; the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion. To properly think critically, one must use all of the mentioned approaches to determine if a given solution is the best for that instance. To make the best determination of the success of a given solution, multiple solutions have to be considered as well as the outcomes. (Dictionary.com)
Personal experiences can be good tools to use when evaluating the possible outcomes of any critical solution. By using past victories and defeats in one’s personal working life, a critical thinker can become stronger by learning from the previous outcomes.
In my own personal experience critical thinking is a valuable tool and has proven to be an asset to me as a manager. In a manufacturing environment there are always issues arising that require critical thinking. The implementation of new lines, processes, and employees require critical thinking. The problem becomes the amount of time required to properly think critically. Many times a solution is needed as soon as possible and is not considered as a long term final point of direction. Later during the developmental stages the long-term answers are required. When the information and time are available, critical thinking is one of my most valuable tools that I have learned to use in my professional career.
In my current job, critical thinking is a daily part of my success. The management staff at my job is very supportive and encourages critical thinking in all areas. When asked how important critical thinking was to his development as a manger, my boss Gary Hecker said “without the use of critical thinking, I would have never made it as far as I have”. He has encouraged me and constantly reminds me to look at every point or possible outcome to a situation before making a decision. (G Hecker, personal communication, 3/07/08)
Critical thinking offers a multiple benefits to any situation. By using the tools of evaluating and analyzing the possible outcomes, the most effective and efficient solution is often an easy choice. The solutions that are not the most effective are proven by the evidence presented against them. The points of critical thinking, according to Webster’s, start with the skillfully conceptualizing an idea. By using the past situations and the forecast of what may come, a proper concept can be formed about what needs to happen. Any situation can benefit from skillful critical thinking. (Dictionary.com)
When thinking critically, the ability to apply hypothetically is very important. To be able to apply the concepts both mentally and physically is valuable to the outcome. The critical thinker can determine whether a concept will or will not work by applying different points to the situation. The results are then analyzed against other end products or results to determine if the point of direction is the best for that situation.
After the first steps are complete the evaluation of the information is performed. A calculation of all of the data provided is combined into the thought process and a final determination is made based on the results. This can be harder than it sounds because critical thinking can sometimes take long amounts of time to complete. Depending on the situation, the issue can be a simple right or wrong answer or the total opposite and involve many determining factors. The final steps are completed and a point of direction is chosen. By using critical thinking, one has the power and ability to make change for the better by using an educated and skillful approach. Although the term is often used incorrectly, many people do think critically without knowing it. Many great managers have used this process without being able to properly define the term.
Critical thinking. (n.d.). Webster’s New Millennium TM Dictionary of English, Preview Edition
(v0.9.7). Retrieved February 07, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/critical thinking