The ability to approach a problem from multiple angles, weed out root causes, and develop a path for resolution is crucial to being an effective consultant, or an effective worker in general. Jen Lawrence writes for the magazine Consulting about eight tips to operate as a more critical thinker.
Not So Crazy Eight
- Use the five second rule.
- Pool the strengths of others to assist in decision-making.
- Only spend energy on things that are within your power to fix.
- Assume nothing.
- Recognize there are no Band-Aid solutions.
- Balance reason and emotion.
- Do not jump to conclusions.
- Consider risk.
The five second rule pertains to taking a brief timeout before you commit to a decision, to make sure your decision is rational and informed and not just a frivolous emotional reaction. Invite others into your decision-making process to get the most complete spectrum of viewpoints. You should never presume to know everything and always be hunting for unadulterated facts. Conclusions should stem directly from evidence and nothing more. This is the only way you will get to the root of problems.
With regard to the third item, do not frustrate yourself with processes outside of your sphere; just do the best job you can within the sandbox you have. About risk, Lawrence says:
A lot of life focuses on risk mitigation. Think about fire safety: we install smoke alarms, fire hydrants, fire extinguishers and emergency exits. While these things are reduce the damage of fire, they do nothing to prevent the fire in the first place. In order to prevent a fire, you must do complicated things like update building wiring to prevent electrical fires, initiate strategic ground fuel burns and tree cuts to prevent wildfires, and disallow smoking and campfires in high risk areas to prevent controlled fires from spreading. Installing a couple of new batteries in the smoke detector each year is so much easier. Effective critical thinkers know how important prevention is, however.
It seems that a major aspect of critical thinking is merely deciding not to settle for the fast and lazy strategies. If that sounds like a good idea to you, you can read Lawrence’s full article here: http://www.consultingmag.com/article/ART1135280?C=drFJWHi9D7ZE6rk1