We know that asking questions can increase the level of common sense in our organizations and workplaces. This puts a lot of pressure on the kinds of questions we ask.
So how do we come up with good questions to ask? Well, that’s a set of skills related directly to our ability and aptitude to think critically.
Common sense and critical thinking are both cognitive processes, but there are some key differences. We know that common sense comes from intuition and learned experiences. In comparison, critical thinking is an active, conscious process rooted in questioning.
To think critically is to ask questions, to dig deep, and to explore as many aspects and possibilities as possible.
What would change in your organization, workplace, or any one of the committees you sit on IF more time was spent thinking critically, going deeper into “why” things are done or not done?
Asking “why” is a necessity to make progress on a project, to expand services, to make decisions related to programs or policies. We discussed previously whether common sense has become less common. Now we ask the same thing of critical thinking. Is critical thinking rampant in your workplace or organization? Should it be? Can it be?
The good news is that critical thinking is directly related to literacy levels. Literacy rates are actually increasing between generations and around the world. Furthermore, as people gain greater access to information and spend more time reading online content, we have seen an uptick in overall reading levels. And yes, in the ability to think more critically.
However, at the same time, we see a downward trend in the amount of humanities being studied in favour of STEM subjects. Subjects like literature, philosophy, and history are the classic training ground for developing critical thinking skills.
It is one thing to know how to code or solve equations and quite another to ask the right questions, at the right time, to the right people.
Critical thinking is the key to solving challenges both in the workplace and at home. Whether or not there’s less of it going around, we’re still in need of it. Are there things you can do in your organization – or for yourself – to refine the ability to think critically? Absolutely, you just need to think about it.