5 Steps to More Critical Thinking
Educators and employers have long bemoaned the lack of critical thinking among students and job seekers. Why? Because it is an essential skill for making the best decisions in work and in life. In essence, critical thinking is the ability to look beyond the obvious and dig deeper to fully understand a situation before acting.
So why is this skill lacking in so many people? Some lay at least some of the blame on a public education system that relies too heavily on specific information required to pass standardized tests, rather than challenging students to thoroughly grasp a subject.
Meanwhile, communication vehicles such as broadcast news sound bites, the Internet and, increasingly, social media present superficial – and sometimes distorted or patently false – information about important events that many don’t thoroughly investigate.
The irony is that the Internet opens up a world of information on any subject. However, without critical thinking, people can be taken in by erroneous, misleading or fabricated claims that may shape their thoughts and lead to bad decisions.
If you’re an employer, critical thinking will help you lead and manage your employees more successfully. A critically thinking machine operator who doesn’t accept a CAM program at face value may come up with more efficient tool paths and other ways to improve a manufacturing process.
Salespeople can use critical thinking to better understand the true needs and pain points of their customers. Is it really just a faster machine tool they need? Or should they consider an automated work cell?
Regardless of your role, critical thinking is an essential skill requiring steps such as these to make the best decisions.
- Analyze: The first step is to truly understand the situation. This requires systematically analyzing each factor and confirming how factual it is.
- Clarify: If you’re at all fuzzy about some aspect of what you are evaluating, seek clarification. Is what you’re hearing or reading really what was intended? Or are parts of it unclear? Are their inconsistencies or erroneous information?
- Evaluate: Through analyzing and clarifying the information at hand, you can determine if you agree, or if you want to explore other options.
- Investigate: Along with fact-checking, you may decide to look into alternative steps, equipment or procedures. Is there a better way to produce this part? Is this the best employee for the job? Is cost the real reason the customer isn’t buying?
- Decide: Do you agree with what was presented to you? If not, based on your analysis and evaluations, what is the best alternative? Because you thought through the issue, checked facts, explored alternatives and applied your own expertise, you will be able to present a logical, coherent case for your decision.
LNS applications and support staff can help you investigate how to improve your manufacturing processes with industry leading bar feeders, chip conveyors, coolant management, air filtration, and work holding. Contact your local LNS representative to learn more. Or call 513-528-5674.