from Heuristic Books
Thinking in Business
ISBN 978-1-59630-024-8 Critical Thinking in Business,
Paperback, 8¼X5½, 120 pp. $16.95
A practical text for building thinking skills.
In todayís competitive business world, businesses must have an edge to
remain competitive and be successful. That edge can be employing
people who can think critically. Itís not enough to hire someone
with an MBA. That person needs have critical think skills.
This text describes a number of critical thinking skills and explains
how those skills can be using in business. These skills, like any
skill, need to be practiced. The good news is that you can practice
them in your own person life in addition to the workplace. While,
Iíve emphasized using various critical thinking skills at work, the fact
is these skills can be used in your personal life as well. Here is
a review of those skills.
An engineering firm would never just design a bridge and assume the design
would work. Theyíd test it out based upon mathematical formulas,
laws of physics and engineering concepts. Basing an idea or design
for a bridge on merely an assumption could be disastrous.
In the business world, assumptions can be dangerous and costly as well.
Each day people working in the business world have decisions to make, proposals
to evaluation and various actions to take. Assumptions need to be
identified and challenged to determine if there is any truth or not
to what is being assumed. Critical thinkers just donít assume whatever
they hear or read about to be true. They seek evidence and challenge assumptions.
ASKING CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS
One of the ways assumptions can be challenged is by asking questions.
As discussed previously, there are several different sets of questions
that you can ask. Some of those categories include asking questions
that clarify, seek evidence and even asking questions about questions.
You can gain information by asking questions. You can also encourage
people to think critically by asking them questions which require them
to give some type of proof or evidence for whatever they are claiming.
FRAMES of REFERENCE
Marketing and salespeople recognized the value in identifying a customerís
frame of reference or perspective. Frames of reference can play an
important role in marketing . In addition, negotiations of business
contracts can be aided by an understanding of the other partyís frame of
reference. Sometimes sales are lost, contracts are stalled or lost,
negotiations break down because people fail to understand another personís
frame of reference. Understanding and recognizing frames of reference
is a valuable critical thinking skill. Itís also helpful to recognize
your own personal frames of reference.
Methodological Believing is a unique role play that provides you with a
greater understanding of an opposing point of view, including other peopleís
frames of reference. This a skill that really needs to be developed
by practicing. Itís best to start with a fairly neutral issue and
gradually progress to more polarized issues. Using this technique
you adapt the opposing point of view and vigorously support it and defend
it for a short duration of about 5 minutes or less. This is an excellent
way to gain some understanding about an opposing point of view.
This is a type of logic that attempts to establish a cause
and effect relationship between two unrelated things. As discussed
in a previous chapter, a manager thought there was a cause and effect relationship
between a sales slump in August and the extremely hot and humid weather.
However, cause and effect relationships can be deceiving and in this case
the causal relationship was proven to be false. Oftentimes other
critical thinking skills are needed to analyze a situation and determine
if there really is a causal relationship or not. Seeking evidence
and challenging assumptions are some of those skills that are needed.
Thinking about oneís thinking (metacognition) is a critical thinking skill
that includes many other critical thinking skills as well. When you
begin to think about your thinking, you will begin to identify some assumptions
you have made. Youíll discover your frames of reference. You
may be able to detect flaws in your thinking. This is a critical
thinking skill that is useful for anyone in business, regardless of what
position you hold. It is a very useful and important critical thinking
Business ethics are important and there are several ďtestsĒ to help you
determine your values and ethics as was discussed in a previous chapter.
Unethical business behavior may not be illegal. But, while you may
not end up in court with a lawsuit, you may find the court of public opinion
to be unforgiving. Customers who perceive that a business isnít treating
them fairly or is cheating them in some manner will naturally boycott that
business. You may find yourself in a difficult dilemma concerning
ethics that will require you to either use one of the ďtestsĒ discussed
earlier or use some other critical thinking skills to decide what to do.
There are many other critical thinking skills. In addition, the role
that stress plays in critical thinking can not be underestimated.
Recall that too much stress turns into distress and makes critical thinking
impossible. While stress management in itself is not a critical thinking
skill, it does help to promote critical thinking.
Critical thinking is a set of thinking skills that can be used in practically
any aspect of business. CEOís of large and middle size companies
and even sole proprietors can use critical thinking to help their businesses
remain competitive and successful. Managers, marketing people, people
in sales, finance human resources and those people involved in accounting
and payroll can all benefit by using various critical thinking skills.
As demonstrated throughout this book, critical thinking skills are
practical skills that can be used right in the workplace Ė right on the
job. Those businesses that wish to get ahead, to remain above the
competition, will employ people that have critical thinking abilities.
About Bob Schoenberg
Bob Schoenberg created the online version of Critical Thinking for
the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He also conducts training seminars
and workshops in southern New England. He is a graduate of the Critical
and Creative Thinking Program at UMASS, Boston, which is the only school
in the country to offer a Masters degree in Critical Thinking.
Prior to teaching Critical Thinking, Mr. Schoenberg served as a software
trainer and stress management consultant. He incorporates stress
management into his course in Critical Thinking based on the premise that
one canít think critically if one is stressed.
Bob has an extensive background in training and curriculum development.
Combining his background as a software trainer, educator and curriculum
developer, he provides a comprehensive and highly effective online experience
for his students. He brings practical business experience to the online
classroom as well with over 12 years experience as an entrepreneur and
You can reach Bob at schoenberg (at) criticalthinkinginbusiness.com,
at bob.schoenberg (at) umb.edu, or at criticalthinking (at) email.com
An imprint of Science & Humanities Press
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