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Critical thinking: Another essential skill for the future

/ 04:03 AM February 03, 2020

Continuing from last week, we discuss another commonly cited attribute needed in the near future: critical thinking.

To be able to analyze, interpret, infer, solve problems and generate solutions define the ability to think critically. With technology taking over routine, the skills needed to navigate gray areas or complex issues and tasks become crucial.

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In fact, many businesses will argue that critical thinking is needed today, not tomorrow.

We asked our resource person on leadership and organizational development, Luigi Mapa, as to why critical thinking is relevant in the workplace:

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1. In complex situations

Leaders with critical thinking skills decide on important things. Machines cannot.

A lot of simple day-to-day decisions is now left to computer programs and/or artificial intelligence, which use automated or rule-based processes. Complex situations, however, need human ability and discretion.

Stock inventory, for example, can be automated through forecasting. How about a more nuanced quandary, say a supplier experienced delays replenishing that stock? Do we search for another supplier or retain the same? This cannot be decided through automation. There are factors that need to be considered like depth of relationships and long-term consequences.

2. To show leadership

We now live in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) environment. Given this scenario, there are so many changes (new markets, new culture, constant disruption) that will confront us all.

Complex decision-making is needed, giving consideration to, and evaluating various options. Those who could demonstrate such higher-level thinking would naturally rise to leadership roles.

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3. For better, faster customer service

Rank and file employees with critical thinking skills can distinguish between situations and will understand that a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all solution does not always apply.

For example, for B2B (business-to-business) clients, a common challenge is pricing. Should we offer the same price to client A and client B even though there is a small but significant difference in the services they are requesting? Plus, there are also considerations such as geographic location, or long-term potential of the client.

If all decision-making were left to owners and executives, the organization will experience bottlenecks. If more individuals are capable of critical thinking and making decisions, response rates would increase and customers can be served faster.

4. For self-growth and career progression

It is important to remember that the root word of critical is “critic.” A critical thinker is able to critique himself/herself, before others offer their criticism.

Why is this important? One can already filter good ideas from the bad. One can be more mindful on what and how to communicate with the boss, colleagues and clients.

If you are always relying on your boss to critique your work, it hampers your personal and professional progression. If everyone can be their own critic, learning and organizational evolution can happen much faster.

Mapa will be lecturing on “Critical Thinking and Problem Solving,” which is part of a six-day program called “Essential Skills for the Future” on March 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27, 2020. The program aims to prepare leaders for disruptive technology, equipping them with skills like creativity, collaboration and communication. These skills were identified by business leaders to be essential to succeed in the future workplace.

If you want the program to be conducted exclusive to your organization, it can be customized according to your learning needs. INQ

The Inquirer Academy is at 4168 Don Chino Roces Avenue corner Ponte Street, Makati City. For more information about the workshops or if you would like to add your inputs to the article, please email [email protected], call (02) 8834-1557, (02) 8771-2715 or (0945) 2158935 and look for Jerald Miguel or Karl Paz, or visit www.inquireracademy.com

The author is the executive director of the Inquirer Academy.

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