As much as companies may try to restrict decision-making authority to managers and executives, it’s impossible to fully insulate frontline workers from all decision-making.
That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it does mean employees need to have the tools available to make effective judgments and decisions and process information on the fly if they don’t have the ability to escalate.
One of the most essential tools in any decision-maker’s toolkit is critical thinking skills. In this post, we discuss the meaning and value of critical thinking for any staff member.
What Is Critical Thinking
First, it’s important to form a solid understanding of what critical thinking means. This simple term can be extremely complex to define. There are many definitions depending on where you look; however, they all get to more or less the same idea.
We can use this definition found at CriticalThining.org from a statement by Michael Scriven and Richard Paul presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987:
Critical thinking is 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. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.
Value of Critical Thinking
There are innumerable values in effective critical thinking. Generally speaking, critical thinking aids in effective decision-making because it helps avoid making decisions based on misleading assumptions, questionable sources, and inherent biases. Critical thinking is also effective in the problem-solving process because it provides the necessary skills to collect and process information.
Critical thinking is an essential component of effective decision-making. It’s valuable at all organizational levels, from the CEO to frontline staff. In a follow-up post, we’ll discuss some strategies for teaching critical thinking skills to employees.