Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CIL2010: Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking: Getting to the Right Decision
Rebecca Jones, Dysart & Jones Associates
Deb Wallace, Managing Director, Baker Library Services Knowledge and Library Services, Harvard Business School

Critical thinking is not about being critical, it's about making good decisions. Making good decisions is not always about being smart, it's about learning how to problem solve. Critial thinking is not an academic exercise!
  • Identify & avoiding traps that foil our decision making
  • Expose and identify the traps and landmines
  • What Harvard's experience has been.
What we often do; make is simple - or - make it too complex.

It is important to demonstrate clarity and communicate clearly. (Slide content) Critical thinking is really about decision-making and problem-solving, open mindedness, and productive dialogue. You can't make decisions alone or in a vacuum, what you do will effect someone else. The decisions we make are increasingly complex.

Good Critical Thinking (slide content)
  • raises the right questions
  • focus on the real problem
  • gather & asses relevant information
  • develop well-reasoned conclusion & solutions
  • test against relevant criterion & standards
  • recognize and assessing assumptions, implications & consequences
  • communicate effective
We are challenging the situation, not the people involved. There is a need for open-mindedness and reason within the thinking process. Re-think what has been thought nto reflect what we think now; move beyond the short term fix to the long term strategy (slide content).
  • framing: identify the frame through which you are looking
  • status quo: defining what it IS and what it IS NOT - ask outsiders
  • anchoring: past statistics & trends, order in which we get information distorts judgement
  • sunk cost fallacy: investment you have already made, stop if it doesn't fit any longer
"Reaching clarity means wading through confusion."

Harvard Business School Experience

Keep the mission very visual. The business school mission states, "We educate leaders who make a difference in the world." The library mission follows, "We support Harvard Business School's mission by enabling the creation and exchange of ideas, expertise and information."

Critical thinking is not critical in message, but is critical to what you do every day. The goals are "enduring" - the strategies used to meet these goals may change for continued success. Build individual capabilities, everyone needs to think! Free people to think in different ways and provide opportunity to motivate beyond the status quo by thinking critically.

Exercising Good Judgement (slide content):
  • capability development
  • develop best practices
  • road maps
  • performance management
  • project management
All day - every day (slide content):
  • customer service standards
  • service delivery
  • customer relations
  • exceptions management
  • strategic alignment
  • employee engagement
  • balanced score cards
  • job descriptions / work design
Satisfaction is not always a top-down exercise, it is also the responsibility from the bottom-up and middle management. Current job descriptions, job design, and expectations allow for modeling of critical thinking, dialogue, and engagement; it sets standards and limits along with an opportunity to contribute.

Leave the conversation open, allow for disagreement, critical thinking and the ability to think.

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