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Introduction to critical thinking

The basics for business

Connie Missimer

Critical thinking is the consideration of alternative arguments or theories in light of evidence; it consists of weighing two or more ideas to see which is closer to the truth. In fact, you’re already using critical thinking skills in some aspects of your life. In this two-hour class, you’ll learn why getting into the habit of critical thinking is crucial in the workplace.

Through a combination of discussion and exercises, you’ll explore why this way of thinking is different from other types of thinking, such as following a habit or deciding on gut instinct; why critical thinking equips you to move toward better answers or more effective solutions; and how you can use critical thinking to facilitate innovative thinking. Finally, you’ll learn that critical thinking is not at all difficult—in fact, it can be deeply satisfying—once you learn what it is and appreciate its value. You’ll leave this class equipped with examples that you can draw on to immediately use critical thinking in your workplace and improve products and process.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The definition of critical thinking
  • Why critical thinking is crucial to solving problems and innovating
  • How it applies to everyday business

And you’ll be able to

  • Apply critical thinking skills to business needs
  • Become more effective in your work
  • Work with your team to solve problems and approach barriers to critical thinking

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re a manager in any area of your company and you need to help your team identify and solve problems.
  • You’re an individual contributor in any area of your company and you want to become a thought leader in your area.
  • You lead a growing company, and you need to know how to infuse critical thinking into your workforce.

Prerequisites

Please reflect on and be prepared to discuss the items in this document - Pre-Class Reflections

Read Chapter 1 “Entering the Exciting World of Critical Thinking“ from Critical Thinking Skills For Dummies

Read the article “The Lost Art of Thinking in Large Organizations,” MIT Sloan Mangement Review

Read Chapters 1 and 2 Does Your Company POUND or FLEX

About your instructor

  • Connie Missimer is a philosopher and expert in critical thinking. Her book Good Arguments, 4th edition offers the basics in analyzing theories and arguments. She has been influential in the critical thinking community for articles on her empirically-based theory and has conducted workshops both nationally and internationally. She joined Microsoft in 2003 and worked in MS Learning, then the nascent Tablet group, and finally in Windows. In 2011 she joined AT&T as a senior manager, where she advised cell phone and tablet partners Samsung, HTC, Microsoft and Google on making their products more user-friendly. She is fascinated by empirical findings, especially strong counterintuitive ones, relating to daily work. She holds over a dozen patents. Her new book, Critical Thinking at Work: Does Your Company Pound or Flex? is now available on Amazon. She holds an MS in Philosophical Literature, UC Berkeley, and an MS in Human Centered Design and Engineering, University of Washington.

Schedule

The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Critical Thinking: Introduction, definition, and relevance in today’s workplace (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Defining critical thinking
  • Exercise: Share examples of recent critical thinking
  • Lecture: History of critical thinking as the core of progress and innovation; using critical thinking to uncover and help solve problems
  • Exercise: Use critical thinking to decide where to vacation
  • Lecture: Why critical thinking is crucial for your team to succeed
  • Exercise: Share examples where critical thinking was not used at work

Barriers to critical thinking at your company plus ways to approach them (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Defining three barriers to critical thinking in the workplace
  • Exercise: Identifying barriers to critical thinking in your workplace

Break (10 minutes)

Applying critical thinking to daily business (30 minutes)

  • Lecture: Review of a fictional company and its struggles to create a smaller spin-off product from a highly successful product; understand how habit is the enemy of critical thinking
  • Exercise: Identifying habits in your workplace that might stifle new ways of thinking
  • Lecture: Review five examples of how critical thinking can affect your everyday actions at work: process, meetings, reports, emails, and overall company strategy
  • Exercise: Identify alternatives and provide evidence for changing habits and changing behavior to encourage critical thinking
  • Exercise: Identify alternate outcomes to situations in the examples that would have led to better outcomes; consider what actions could be taken next.

How to apply critical thinking to your life and team every day (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: How to think critically about the tolerance for critical thinking in your workplace
  • Exercise: Hypothetical examples of companies that encourage or discourage critical thinking
  • Exercise: Measuring your understanding of critical thinking

Question and Answer (10 minutes)