TeamBuilding and Leadership Expert Michael CardusHaving just spent the week with Camp Inquiry which works with children to focus on;

Imagination. Investigation. Illumination. Critical thinking extends beyond the science classroom. It serves as a guide not for what to think, but how to think and live in the world—how to discover truth and meaning.

Now wondering what critical thinking is and how does it apply to team development and leadership within organizations?

Managers, team leaders, employees, teachers, administrators, University Presidents, Recruiters, etc… all agree that our nation needs more critical thinking and I am sure you do also.

BUT how do we develop, teach and create models for people to use and understand?

So I based the thought on a definition of critical thinking that I love

  • Critical Thinking is thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, in order to make your thinking better. – Richard Paul

GREAT! Now that we have a definition here is a model that can be used with an organizational level, team level, or individual level; all that will change is who is in the room, if they are smart enough to handle the complexity of the questions at that level, and how the work is completed.

Here is the model (you will notice it is based upon the 5 Questions for Processing Team Building Activities)

When you are presented with a claim, piece of evidence, a process, organizational system really anything that YOU as a manager and a person who makes decisions at work has to explore + think about and decide. Walk through these 5 steps;

1. Central Claim you noticed
  • What was one thing (choose one at a time) that the evidence supplied to you is claiming to do?
  • If you are with a team ask each person to choose what they noticed was the claim or benefit of choosing one way or another. Gathering multiple perspectives will help overcome psychological constipation.
  • Creating 1 claim to focus on will frame the context of the thinking about the information supplied.
2. Why did you notice that? Why do they want you to notice that?
  • Think, discuss, list the reasons you noticed what what you did. Do you tend to favor one process over another? Is the person just a persuasive speaker? What about this claim is making you notice what you did in the first step?
  • As an individual do you notice any patterns in your choices?
  • As a team do you tend to always choose certain ideas, processes, systems?
  • Exploring what is underlying what you noticed in the first step can uncover some possible prejudices that exist.
3. Does that happen to you outside this context?
  • Outside the office, home, this team, this room – do you tend to think the same about similar claims? After thinking about the thoughts of the claim, moving into a larger field of thought will develop another level of thinking.
  • Often thinking happens and we do not even realize that the “auto-pilot” is on-sometimes that works to our advantage and sometimes it can be devastating. With some ideas more thought must be used, being cautious and learning to recognize patterns of thinking, will result in better decisions and critical thinking.
4. What causes / indicators do you have to know that is happening?
  • Following the determination of thought patterns, thinking and discussing how your thinking can be wrong or right and causes; that allows for movement into the critique of the decision you are trying to make.
  • We all can reflect upon decisions made and realize that indicators of success /  failure were evident at some point. Listing and examining decisions in the past can help to uncover and repeat (or not-repeat) success and failures.
5. How Can You Apply This? Or What are you going to do with this?
  • Now comes the decision point…after the team and / or you have Explored the central claim –> Determined why you noticed that claim –> Explored thought patterns that happen outside that context (environment) –> Critiqued causes and indicators of past success / failure NOW WHAT?
  • Based upon your earlier stated critical thinking what is the decision?
  • This is challenging and if the team and you explored steps 1 – 4 you should have a critical thought and choice that is at this time the best that you can offer!

Critical Thinking for team development and leadership is a process that takes time and with all processes the more you practice the skills, the more it just becomes what you do.

Could your organization, team, leadership benefit from critical thinking of decisions and work? Contact Mike to make you team and leadership better.