Risk Management

IT Managers, Do You Really Understand Critical Thinking?

You’ve seen it posted on job ads – “Must have good critical thinking skills.” But what, exactly, do IT managers mean when they ask for critical thinking? Jim Anderson, in a post for PM Hut, reasons that everyone is asking for something different when they cite critical thinking as a job requirement:

One of the challenges that we all have is that we struggle to define just exactly what critical thinking is. However, we believe that we know it when we see it. What we want to see is team members who are able to transform book knowledge into problem solving that they can use in the workplace.

To Anderson, it’s all about “connecting the dots,” about forming an opinion based on information collected from multiple sources. In short, what managers are looking for in IT employees are problem solvers with a little extra chutzpah thrown in.

Identifying the Critical Thinker

Sniffing out the good critical thinker requires a little Q&A with job candidates. (e.g., “When was the last time you encountered such-and-such a situation, and how did you handle it?”) IT is, in no small part, about data. So when we look for critical thinking in IT staff what we’re actually interested in acquiring is a team member who can make the best use of all the data they’re given, one who can collect, analyze, and synthesize information to make balanced and informed decisions.

Expect the Whole Package

Sometimes we don’t really want critical thinkers. When we’ve accumulated a number of individuals who put their critical thinking to use questioning the status quo, it’s time we turn to hiring the more run-of-the-mill problem solvers to maintain a stable work environment. After all, we don’t own an individual’s intellectual powers any more than we own them outright. If they’re capable of aiming their laser-like thinking at on-the-ground tasks, who’s to say they can’t look up every so often to justly critique their institution or their superiors? Managers should expect the whole package.

Read the original post at: http://www.pmhut.com/it-managers-need-to-understand-just-exactly-what-critical-thinking-is

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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