Tagged: Synthesis

The art of critical thinking

albertEntrepreneurs need to make decisions, create strategies, plan projects and constantly face risks in order to manage day-to-day business challenges. In a global business environment, alertness and the right pace is the key to success. Critical thinking is the most important skill needed by entrepreneurs that can help them move ahead consistently and diligently.

The fundamental aspect of critical thinking is a clear and rational thinking process involving critique. The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the “intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”

When you think through a business problem, your thought process is naturally motivated by biases, such as your point of view and your assumptions about the situation. Such ideas and biases affect your reasoning. If you let your biases drive your thought process and overlook blind spots in your logical thinking, you’ll unintentionally make decisions filled with flaws.

So what is the right method?

Here is a step-by-step process that can help you get better in critical thinking:

1. Knowledge or insight: The first step is to ask the right questions that can help deep understanding about the problem. The questions in this stage should be open-ended to allow the chance to discuss and explore main reasons. At this stage, two main questions need to be addressed: What is the problem? And why do we need to solve it?

2. Understanding: At this step you understand the material read, heard or seen. In understanding, you make the new knowledge that you have acquired your own by relating it to what you already know. The better you are involved with the information, the better you will understand it. The best way to know if you have understood and comprehended something is by defining what you have read or heard into your own words.

3. Application: This is the step where you build a linkage between the information, your understanding and resources available. An example would be to use Mind maps to analyze the situation, build a relation between it and the core problem, and determine the best way to move forward and take action.

4. Analysis: This is the stage when you deep dive into the problem and divide it into smaller sections or workable actions, so that you have a clear understanding of how ideas are ordered, related, or connected to other ideas and steps.

5. Synthesis: At this stage you put it all together. A decision should be formed about how to solve the problem and the initial routes to follow to take this decision into action. Synthesis involves the ability to put together the parts you analyzed with other information to create a solution.

6. Get going and take action: The result of critical thinking should be transferred into clearly defined actionable steps. If the decision involves a specific project or team, a plan of action could be implemented to ensure that the solution is adopted and executed as planned.

Last but not the least; it is highly recommended that you consider implications of your options and decisions. Every choice and action has consequences, and you can improve your decision-making by anticipating what those might be. In order to do that, try to look at the problem from all different viewpoints and angles and repeat the above steps if needed.