By Jonathan Kirschner, Psy.D. • November 25, 2010

Critical Thinking in a World of Data and Uncertainty

In a recent survey of over 400 senior HR managers, critical thinking was selected as the most vital area for managers to develop over the next five years. This finding resonates throughout the corporate jungle, where workers are increasingly confronted by the challenges of globalization, flatter organizational landscapes, rapid change and prodigious uncertainty.

These challenges increase the complexity of solving business problems by proliferating the amount of information that must be considered for making decisions. Some of this data will converge, some will be contradictory, some of it may not even exist, and yet, a decision must be made, and usually quite quickly.

Corporations have begun to examine their bench strength through the lens of critical thinking because the ability to make solid decisions in an age of information overload directly impacts the bottom line. Thankfully, psychometric instruments exist that can assess critical thinking and provide a more objective measurement of an individual’s overall critical thinking, as well as their strengths and weaknesses within sub-components of critical thinking (i.e. inference, deduction, etc). Assessment findings can be extremely valuable since critical thinking can actually be improved upon through skills training and executive coaching.

Over the next two months, AIIR Consulting will be blogging a four part series on what exactly critical thinking is, why there is a whole hoopla over critical thinking, how do we understand the high correlation between critical thinking and performance, and how can one measure and subsequently improve their critical thinking skills. We’ll also take a look at two case studies for how critical thinking can impact the bottom line. We’ll see how one company’s failure to think critically caused it to sink, while another company’s critical thinking launched it out of recessionary waters into the black. Stay tuned…